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Amir Khojasteh, Study after the Romanian Blouse by Henri Matisse #2, 2019, oil on canvas, 17 3⁄4 × 11 3⁄4".

Amir Khojasteh, Study after the Romanian Blouse by Henri Matisse #2, 2019, oil on canvas, 17 3⁄4 × 11 3⁄4".

Amir Khojasteh

Carbon 12

“There are only two styles of portrait painting: the serious and the smirk,” declares Miss La Creevy in Charles Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby (1838). The former, she adds, is to be used for professionals and public figures, and the latter for private individuals, “who don’t care so much about looking clever.” Amir Khojasteh’s darkly comedic paintings are decidedly in the latter camp, but none of his subjects are smiling. In his work, humans and horses alike bear the narrowed eyes of exasperated hindsight. They have #regrets, and they turn to face the viewer like Jim from The Office, with side-eye that could rival the most popular reaction GIFS.

Paint is so thickly applied that it dribbles down equine foreheads and pudgy chins like sweat, or perhaps drool. In a pair of small paintings titled El Comandante #1 and El Comandante #2, both 2019, Che Guevara seemed to quite literally drip with

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