Los Angeles as a Cultural Stir Fry
LOS ANGELES — This metropolis is neither a melting pot nor a salad. A cultural melting pot implies that the cultures mix and merge into one, making them indistinguishable from one another. A cultural salad implies that that the cultures stay distinct, even whereas making a singular entire that may be attention-grabbing due to the mixture.
Los Angeles is, as a substitute, an excellent stir fry — mixing, merging, blended flavors and substances that preserve distinctness whereas invariably altering one another. And like an excellent stir fry, the recipe for being an Angelene varies by household.
Los Angeles artist Amir H. Fallah, who arrived within the metropolis by means of Tehran after which Turkey, understands this deeply. In “Cowgirl,” a big round portray that accommodates the eponymous determine, Fallah combines a spread of symbologies right into a stir fry that feels directly of town and a problem to what town represents.
“For the artist,” the exhibition textual content explains, “the flourishing flora round this tondo’s perimeter serves as a metaphor for the American promise of fertile soil and alternatives for all.” Alongside the anime-like cowgirl, a Black Panther emblem, a standard West or South Asian determine, and a gilded horse all come collectively — questioning the idyllic promise of the cowgirl. The work is within the model of a tondo, or Flemish garland portray, which normally accommodates a portrait inside the body. Fallah has left it clean with turquoise.
The Fallacy of Borders, on view on the UCLA Fowler Museum by way of Could 14, is the primary solo exhibition of the artist, whose daring, vibrant work, sculptures, and stained glass items talk a wealthy array of cultures, views, and influences, all fashioned by the various diasporas that form Los Angeles, alongside his personal cultural heritage as Iranian American.
The present is organized by main themes: New Worlds | Outdated Worlds; Sculptures; Portraiture; Allegory; Autobiography and Canvas | Stained Glass; and Objects | Reminiscences. The thematic association helps us filter the works by way of the angle of main influences in Fallah’s life. Within the Portraiture part, for instance, we see his curiosity within the primacy of objects and gestures in shaping id. If his tondos problem the concept of centrality implicit in a circle, his portrait sequence challenges the concept that a topic want be identifiable by their face.
In “Life,” a determine below fabric holds a grey coronary heart, its valves and chambers on full show, and in “Be Nonetheless,” one other determine holds its arms within the dharmachakra mudra, or mudra of instructing. The figures’ arms are yellow and violet, respectively, their faces hidden below colourful prints. Race, gender, class, and different markers fade away, as Fallah as a substitute represents his topics by way of the objects round them, after assembly with the sitters to debate what’s necessary to them. The Autobiography part gives a glimpse into the artist’s immigration journey. His portray “No Gods No Masters” consists of depictions of Center Jap stereotypes, reminiscent of Aladdin on a flying rug, and a Nosferatu-like specter behind a Nineteen Twenties flapper in a crimson costume.
His monumental work “Break Down the Partitions” accommodates a litany of symbols and pictures that talk to the present’s title, representing the struggles of immigration, particularly in a hostile surroundings. “I made this sketch,” Fallah defined within the exhibition audio, “over the last yr of the Trump presidency. Watching the information I used to be devastated by what was taking place on the US-Mexico border.” It reminded him of his personal expertise coming to the US, and he questioned how his life might need performed out in another way had his and his household’s entry been denied in an analogous method. The work’s title references the music of hardcore band Youth of Right now, whose themes of immigration proceed to tell his politics.
A keyhole on the middle opens out to another life: a dove represents messages, angels mirror good and evil, and a traveler seems off into the space. Fallah calls them symbols, however to me additionally they learn as archetypes, connecting the modern-day expertise of immigration with the traditional experiences of wandering, nomadism, migration, and loss. “These symbols symbolize the advanced conditions that every one nations take care of surrounding the problem of immigration,” he famous of his portray. “Who’s allowed in and who’s saved out. Who’s secure and who’s in hurt’s method. And most significantly, who will get to determine.”
Scattered all through the present are sculptures, every manufactured from hand-painted sheets of aluminum. They proceed the visible themes of the work, with cutouts that symbolize varied organs. From far-off, and even up shut, they give the impression of being extra delicate, as if manufactured from cardboard fairly than metallic. They’re complemented by the beautiful stained glass items he developed with Judson Studios, established in 1897 in Los Angeles and the nation’s longest-operating stained glass workshop. The textures of each the sculptural and glass works deliver to life the daring colour selections and iconography of Fallah’s artwork.
Rounding out the present is an array of covers of Lovely/Decay, an artwork and design journal that Fallah led as editor-in-chief and inventive director whereas finishing his MFA at UCLA. Donated by photographer Fubz, a longtime collaborator, the journal covers present the artist’s huge pursuits and creativity, and a choice of Lovely/Decay hoodies from artists and galleries like Aya Kato and Deitch Tasks mirror the daring pop of the second.
“Magnificence and decay” is, maybe, one of the best ways to explain the yin and yang of Amir H. Fallah’s work. Aesthetically talking, his items are luxurious, lovely, and provoking, respiratory life into the symbols and topics he chooses to color. However the themes he explores mirror a shadow aspect, a decay of borders, belief, and stability that comes with the trauma of immigration and of current in a rustic with a rising tradition of rhetoric and violence towards immigrants.
In “Protector 1,” a cloaked determine holds what seems like an Egyptian bust, and within the distance a Japanese woodblock-style print options one other determine gazing out from a cliffside onto water. Based on the exhibition textual content, the portray is in regards to the downsides of cultural preservation, which so typically entails taking cultural heritage from one nation in an effort to showcase it in one other. However within the context of this present and its themes I are likely to see it one other method: as an immigrant holding onto no matter piece of the previous they will, figuring out it, too, may someday be taken away.
Amir H. Fallah: The Fallacy of Borders continues on the Fowler Museum (308 Charles E. Younger Drive North, Westwood, Los Angeles) by way of Could 14. The exhibition was curated by Amy Landau, director of schooling and interpretation on the Fowler Museum.