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Conversations with Falah Saeedi

Today we’d like to introduce you to Falah Saeedi.

Hi Falah, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
My love for art began at an early age. My mother was my biggest supporter, encouraging me to draw, buying me art supplies, and building my collection of magazines about Renaissance artists and their famous works. I would create studies of their paintings, sketching them on paper and showing them to my friends and teachers at school. It was my dream to be one of those Renaissance artists.

During my intermediate school studies, I became fascinated by the works of Impressionist artists and would mimic their artistic style, drawing traditional scenes with beautiful old homes, landscapes, rivers, parks, and farms as well as archeological sites such as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. These works were fantastically appropriate for me to employ the Chiaroscuro technique that I had just learned at the time.

One of my greatest achievements was being accepted to the Institute of Fine Art in Baghdad. It was here that I was able to develop my initial, unique artistic style, combining the techniques of abstraction and expressionism. I used to walk down the old traditional streets, through neighborhoods in which 150-year-old homes and buildings were standing. I loved looking at the peeled-off paints of those structures, and how they created complex colored compositions with different shadows and tones.

Those peeled-off spots of paint, weathered by the environment, intertwined to the extent that one could think of them as man-made textured abstract works. Electric wires and cable also cut through the neighborhood, creating beautifully-reflected lines on the structures. Inspired, I loved translating what I saw in the streets to paintings on canvas, creating my own unique style of abstract expressionism.

Iraq was plagued by wars and economic siege in the 1990s. As a descendent of a low-income family, the biggest challenge for me as a young artist was overcoming the financial obstacles that made it difficult for me to purchase art materials. I used every opportunity to buy and collect materials to create my art, eagerly participating in gallery exhibits and national festivals.

After the political and security situation worsened in post-2003 Iraq, I realized that a move to the United States would offer me the artistic stability that I dreamt of since my youth. My move to the States also presented new obstacles, in that I was a totally new, unknown artist here in America. But through the quality of my works and the support of my new community, I was able to build recognition for myself as an established and collectible artist. I continue to participate in gallery exhibitions and festivals here in Arizona.

I was born in Babel, Iraq in 1976. During grade school, I was accepted to the prestigious Iraqi Institute of Art. From there I proceeded to graduate with honors from the Institute of Fine Arts, Baghdad. While working in Iraq, I was a member of the Iraqi Artist Union and the Society of Iraqi Plastic Artists. In 1990, I participated in the Festival of Arab Cooperation Council.

My first solo exhibition was held at the Hall of the Institute of Fine Arts in 1995, followed by a second exhibit in 1998. After graduating from the Fine Arts Institute with my Bachelor of Art in 1999, demand for my work grew and I left Iraq for Amman, the capital of Jordan, where I held several exhibitions as a highly-collectible artist.

Today, my work can be found all over the region of the Middle East from Dubai to Qatar. ​I have resided in the United States since 2013.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I believe that art provides a medium to unite people with a wide range of human experiences, a language that translates culture into accessible and relatable imagery, regardless of your social, political, or cultural background. My art links together two different parts of the world, the Middle East and the USA, to create interdisciplinary works that are representative of my experience.

My work embodies different academic artistic schools, styles, and techniques and incorporates themes from sociology, philosophy, anthropology, religion, politics, cultural studies, and everyday life. I believe that the uniqueness of one’s background should not be perceived as a rival or threat to other cultures but as an integral part of the whole of humanity.

As a result, my art reflects my ability to transform reality, with all of its contradictions, into a harmonious place and time-framed on a canvas.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
I was fortunate to be born into a family that continuously appreciates and supports the arts, pushing me to develop my artistic talents.

My wife, Najlaa Al Ramahi, is also an artist and continuously encourages me in my career. The bad luck of the political upheaval in my homeland influenced my decision to move to America. This move served as a starting point to enter a global arena of the art world, which I believe was good luck.

I feel fortunate for my community of artists and galleries here in Phoenix which provides me with a safe, productive environment where I can work and produce art successfully.

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