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Were it not for the current global pandemic, Amir H. Fallah’s solo show of new paintings would be on view at Shulamit Nazarian in Los Angeles, CA, right now. His major museum exhibition “Scatter My Ashes on Foreign Lands” at Museum of Contemporary Art Tuscon was also cut short, after opening in January. Like so many artists, he’s had a number of projects postponed or cancelled, which is disappointing, but Fallah’s also aware of how fortunate he is. His family is safe and he and his wife can work from home—in between taking care of their four-year-old.
Fallah is known for blending veiled subjects; personally significant objects; cultural, art historical, and political references within intricately detailed large-scale paintings, murals, and even stained-glass pieces.Whitewall checked in on the artist recently and he shared how despite the personal and collective challenges of this time, he’s finding moments he’ll know he’ll cherish down the road.
WHITEWALL: How are you doing?
AMIR H. FALLAH: I feel extremely fortunate that my family is safe and secure right now. We are both able to work from home and take turns taking care of our four-year-old-son. I’m more stressed out about the millions of people in America and across the world that don’t have the stability that we have. It’s frustrating to listen to the news and see how ill prepared the US government is for situations like this. They have no problem attacking other countries in record time with extreme efficiency for power or oil but when it comes to taking care of our own people, they are incompetent. At least we live in California where we have a decent state government.
With that said, it is a bit of a challenge to have multiple projects cancelled or postponed, have my son out of school, and not be able to have our regular routine. It’s amazing how you miss the simple things like going to a restaurant or seeing friends.
WW: What are you listening to, reading, watching?
AHF: In the studio I listen to the news but get angry and turn it off. Then I try a comedy podcast but can’t focus on it. Then I put on an art related podcast but it feels frivolous when the world is at a standstill. It’s been hard to listen to any one thing for a long time in the studio. Maybe I should listen to music.
We’ve been watching Tiger King, Ozark, and any trashy reality TV that can get my mind off of the real reality that we’re currently living through.
WW: What are you cooking?
AHF: We’ve been eating great lately. We always cook healthy vegan food a few times a week but now that all our meals are at home my wife and I have been getting creative. My wife has been trying to keep morale up by baking something like a cake or chocolate chip cookies once a week with our son and we recently made lemonade with lemons from our tree with him. He loves it and it’s an activity he can take part in.
WW: How are you staying connected?
AHF: I’ve been calling fellow artists and friends everyday while I paint, which has been comforting. I’m a people person so not being around others is depressing. I can’t remember the last time I painted for a month by myself. I miss having my assistants around and stopping by other artists’ studios. I also did a few zoom meetings and calls which were fun but could never replace spending time in person.
WW: Are you able to find the time to create/work in your studio?
AHF: Since my wife and I both work we divide up the day and each work around 4-5 hours. Obviously, it’s not the best situation but 4-5 hours is better than nothing. I’ve also been making work on paper at home on our dining room table with my son. He’s obsessed with the human body and creates human anatomy collages while I make small watercolors. It’s actually my favorite part of quarantine. It’s a special activity with him that I think I’ll always remember and cherish.
WW: How are you staying inspired/hopeful?
AHF: I believe in humanity. I love seeing everyone coming together and helping each other out during this crisis. It’s inspiring. This pandemic points out how we have to have a global view of the world. What we do has a direct effect on those around us. We need to stop relying on oil, believe in science, reduce our carbon footprint, close wet markets, eat a plant-based diet, and push for universal healthcare and living wages. Every dollar we spend is a vote for the type of world we want to live in, and I plan on spending my money on people, companies, and organizations that make the world a better place for my son and future generations that will inherit our planet.