Inspired by Flemish renaissance floral still-life painting, Iranian artist Amir H Fallah tells Jenny Hewett what’s behind his latest exhibition, ‘The Arrangement’.
Having studied the intricate and detailed botanical paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, Amir H Fallah has added a modern twist to classic Flemish art. Employing contemporary techniques to his multi-layered interpretations of the form, he explains the rationale for his work and why he decided to approach the subject from a new perspective.
How did you become interested in Dutch/Flemish floral arrangement works?
It happened by accident. I had no interest originally in the history of them or subject matter. It started when my mother asked me to make a painting for her home. She’d been asking me for a long time to make something ‘pretty’ for her house. ‘Can’t you make me something that’s a landscape or a pretty flower painting?’ she would say. Being the good son that I am, I finally caved in and started making a painting of a massive bouquet for her.
What is the inspiration for ‘The Arrangement’?
I focused on five iconic paintings from the Dutch/Flemish Golden age and used them as a starting point to create new works. I began by first scanning reproductions of the paintings. I cut out various flowers from each painting and printed them out to use as collage elements. Each painting combines reproductions of the original source material alongside my own hand-painted elements creating a new arrangement that combines the past with the present. The name for the show is a play on flower arranging and how a florist takes various flowers and mixes and matches them together to create a bouquet. This is a metaphor that I often come back to for my painting process as I’m constantly mixing together content, imagery and painting techniques from the past and the present and from high and low art to create my work.
Explain your technique and style.
I often feel like I have art-supply ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) – as a result I never limit myself to any one material. Instead of only using oil paint or collage, I combine multiple mediums to make my work. This creates a rich surface where you find acrylic, collage, digital reproduction, drawing, oil paint and printmaking all in the same piece. The combination of multiple mediums also creates a tension in the work that I like as some materials don’t sit naturally next to one another.
Approximately how long does it take to create each artwork? It looks quite meticulous.
The paintings take time to create. I often work on several pieces at once so it’s hard to gauge exactly how much time goes into each individual work but on a medium-sized painting it can take anywhere between three weeks to a month to finish.
Explain a typical day for you as an artist?
Most days I wake up around 9am, check my email, eat something quickly and jump into the studio for two to three hours. Then a quick lunch break and back to work until about 5-6pm. I then walk our dog, eat dinner and hang out with my wife for a couple hours. Lately I’ve been doing a second shift in the studio from around 9pm-1am to catch up on work. Needless to say that I don’t get much sleep but that’s a small price to pay for getting to make art for a living.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
I was actually thinking about this question the other day. I absolutely love documentaries. I watch several documentaries a week in fact and love how they tell amazing stories about the real world. A low-budget documentary can be hundred times more interesting than any big budget 3D IMAX superhero movie that is full of dragons.
Exhibition: ’The Arrangement’ until July 30 at The Third Line, Street 6, Al Quoz 3 (04 341 1367)
Artist: Amir H Fallah
Prices: On request