How does the artist generate beauty from the trials of the immigrant experience? The Fall depicts a group of Iranians picnicking on a Persian rug. They read, drink, and carouse—so far so good. But we can't help noticing that they do so in the dark, far from their colorful homeland. They are on the way to their destination: a hypnotic golden tree that embraces the whole composition.
This is the fate of immigrants, away from the land of their birth, not yet part of their adopted home. Ahkami, herself the daughter of immigrants, expresses this fate—not only through her subject matter, but her distinct style, too. Impressively, her paintings marry the pattern and narrative of Persian miniatures to the painterliness and ambiguity of western art (the work of the French symbolist Gustave Moreau particularly springs to mind).
Consider the image closely. The homeland is at the center of the composition, radiating in vibrant segments of patterns and colors. Why would the immigrants want to leave such an idyll? But look again. Amidst the beautiful grounds of lapis lazuli, ruby red, and fertile brown, you spy a hunting scene. Armed horsemen are cutting down nude women. The white and blue ripples that crisscross the composition away from the brightness and into the shadows are hordes of dejected immigrants.
Yet our first impression was correct; The Fall is not a sad artwork. We come to realize that the title doesn't only refer to a fall from grace, but to the season. The golden tree in the foreground signifies the future. It is no accident that the tree's leaves are the same colors as the mournful immigrants—they are part of the tree, and dot their new land, enriching its lavender soil with new color, literally joining it. The scene reminds us of the words of Albert Camus: “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
With art for everyone,
Giovanni Garcia-Fenech + Team 20x200