Themes Of Culture And Identity Fill This L.A. Artist’s Vibrant Works


Amir H. Fallah wearing a baseball cap and glasses seated in front of painting

In his San Gabriel Valley studio, artist Amir H. Fallah creates richly layered works like the 2023 piece behind him, Looking Out.

The threads that connect Amir H. Fallah to his Iranian heritage are woven throughout his works, but the Los Angeles-based artist is just as likely to draw inspiration from 1980s skateboard graphics, vintage fashion illustrations and his son’s storybooks as from Persian manuscripts. He likens his process to that of a hip-hop artist sampling music, manipulating myriad ideas to create something new. Fallah often sifts through thousands of images stored on his computer to develop a digital collage. “I move things around like a puzzle to create a dialogue between the imagery,” he says.

wide paintbrush covered in stripes of paint, against a paint splattered striped surface

“My art asks a lot of questions but doesn’t necessarily provide answers,” says Fallah. “I want people to come up with their own conclusions.”

Painting by Amir H. Fallah showing a figure shrouded in a purple robe, surrounded by birds and rings of color

A detail of the artist’s large-scale 2023 work, A Cosmic Storm, using acrylic on canvas.

Reference piece on paper against the working artwork of a figure lying on a rug pointing to the sky

His pieces, which often hew to broad socioeconomic issues, typically start as collages.

collection of acrylic paints in a variety of colors with handwritten labels against a paint splattered surface

Fallah works in acrylics, which he mixes himself.

Amir H. Fallah painting showing a figure holding flowers while looking at a devil in a circle

A detail from the artist’s work, They Will Say a Collection of Untruths.

Whether they are large-scale canvases, painted aluminum sculptures or pieces crafted from fused and stained glass, the artist’s contemporary works reflect the topics that preoccupy and engage him, from global conflicts to issues surrounding identity and immigration, right down to what it means to be a father. But those themes aren’t always immediately apparent. Decorative borders divide many of his pieces into grids; inside, he combines disparate images whose meanings invite varied interpretations. Fallah is a maximalist with a “more is more” approach that layers vibrant symbols, graphics and illustrations for plenty of viewer interaction. And his twist on portraiture features figures that are veiled—underscoring his view that a person’s appearance is less interesting than what they surround themselves with—his subject’s skin tones rendered in orange or yellow to obscure their ethnicity.

A recent exhibition in Shanghai drew from Fallah’s personal life: It was inspired in part by his son. “A lot of the imagery in that show deals with wandering, searching, looking,” he explains “It’s about the big life questions that there are no right or wrong answers to.” And for two concurrent solo exhibitions earlier this year—“The Fallacy of Borders” at UCLA’s Fowler Museum and “A War on Wars” at Shulamit Nazarian—the artist focused on broad issues of war, power, oppression, boundaries and borders. 

Despite the topics his work addresses, Fallah doesn’t particularly think of himself as a political artist. “I just want people to feel something when they see my pieces and to walk away thinking about it,” he muses. “My art asks a lot of questions but doesn’t necessarily provide answers. I want people to come up with their own conclusions.