Art & object: 5 Not-to-Be-Missed Los Angeles Solo Shows

Paul Laster, Art & Object, October 23, 2020

With the fall art season in full swing, we turn our lens on Los Angeles, where a 78-year-old Funk and Nut artist is enjoying a long-overdue moment in the spotlight, two polished artists show us why they have such big followings, and a ceramicist and a painter share their personal memories and histories in highly colorful and inventive ways.

Amir H. Fallah: Remember My Child...
September 12 – October 31, 2020
Shulamit Nazarian

One of the most fascinating figurative painters working today, Amir H. Fallah brings a sense of graphic design—a skill he picked up from founding, editing, and publishing the DIY lifestyle zine-turned-magazine Beautiful Decay from 1996 (when he was just sixteen) until 2013—to his rich, visual narratives. Creating biographical portraits from the things people own, he merges a knowledge of Western art and culture with the pattern-based language of Islamic art to construct something completely fresh and spirited. In his new series of large-scale paintings, the Iranian-American artist explores the immigrant experience through the personal histories of his family to construct life lessons to pass down to his young son.

“Each painting starts with a line of text and that line of text is my starting point for finding imagery—the iconography to use in the painting,” Fallah explained in a recent video for the COLA 2020 Artist Focus Series. “Everyday I started this practice of sitting down at our dining room table, which is now covered in plastic—a kind of makeshift art studio—and my son and I will have some creative projects to do. I’ll start making these small works on paper that are based on some of the sketches that I have for the larger paintings and he will do some sort of art and craft project. It’s been really interesting because so much of the work is about raising a child and passing on your values to him.”

COURTESY SHULAMIT NAZARIAN, LOS ANGELES

Installation view of Amir H. Fallah: Remember My Child at Shulamit Nazarian.

The painting Science Is The Antidote, Superstition Is The Disease is a puzzle-like piece that mixes Americana with Islamic mythology and an old map of the world, while They Will Smile To Your Face simulates the composition of an enlarged Persian miniature with imagery from science and art centered around a birdcage with one bird that is caged and another that’s free. Remember My Child, Nowhere Is Safe layers imagery of a maiden spilling wine and black and white hands holding a symbolic plant, placed in front of a floral rug that’s blocking a floor plan of a structure, which is sided by a picture of Columbus being greeted by Native Americans and an hourglass measuring time.

Three large tondos combine painting and collage to give the blended histories a global perspective that’s embellished by a rich variety of flowers and plants encircling glowing fields of color. Offering a Garden of Eden-type of paradise, they provide hope for a peaceful future, where all of the cultural elements tossed together might live in sync.