The Caretaker · Amir H. Fallah

Amir Fallah’s immersive installation, The Caretaker, exemplifies his exploration of contemporary portraiture. His subject: a JCCC professor.

Amir Fallah creates a three-dimensional picture of his subject, JCCC journalism professor Mark Raduziner, through paintings and constructions inspired by Raduziner’s possessions, including his collection of more than 300 cactus plants, which has gained him a measure of local renown.

“An overarching theme of most of my work is: ‘How do you create an alternative portrait?’” Fallah said in a recent interview. “Instead of describing what someone looks like superficially, how do we approach portraiture in a new way?”

The central element of his installation is a 12-foot-high sculpture inspired by Raduziner’s collection of lava lamps, fronted with Plexiglas and mounted on a circular platform. Grow lights illuminate the interior, which is lined with marbleized paper and houses a life-sized painted portrait of Raduziner, his head, face and entire upper body entirely hidden beneath wildly patterned Coogi sweaters.

Raduziner inherited the sweaters from his father; the needlepoint he holds belonged to his mother. Displayed with the painting, assorted specimens from Raduziner’s cactus collection complete this diorama of his life. Fallah extends his unconventional portrayal of Raduziner on the gallery walls, where he is displaying a massive wall hanging created from Coogi sweaters, large tondo paintings of flowers and additional cactus plants on specially made shelves. The shelves inject his display with an altar-like sensibility.