Ghada Amer (b. 1963, Cairo, Egypt) views herself primarily as a painter, but she has worked in a variety of media, producing ceramics, site-specific garden works, photographs, prints, drawings, installations, and performance pieces.Read More
Her work has always explored ideas related to women, femininity, and gender roles. ‘I believe that all women should like their bodies and use them as tools of seduction,’ Amer stated; and in her well-known erotic embroideries, she at once rejects oppressive laws set in place to govern women’s attitudes toward their bodies and repudiates first-wave feminist theory that the body must be denied to prevent victimisation. By depicting explicit sexual acts with the delicacy of needle and thread, their significance assumes a tenderness absent within simple objectification. Amer continuously allows herself to explore the dichotomies of an uneasy world and confronts the language of hostility and finality with unsettled narratives of longing and love.
Amer’s work addresses first and foremost the ambiguous, transitory nature of the paradox that arises when searching for concrete definitions of east and west, feminine and masculine, art and craft. Through her paintings, sculptures and public garden projects, Amer takes traditional notions of cultural identity, abstraction, and religious fundamentalism and turns them on their heads.
She has also created a number of text-based works, most notably the installation piece Encyclopaedia of Pleasure, which comprises fifty-seven canvas boxes inscribed with embroidered texts serving as investigations of sexual and spiritual identity. While her works serve as commentary on the roles of women, they also offer a critique of painting itself, particularly in its largely masculine Abstract Expressionist mode. Her incorporation of thread into the parameters of the canvas legitimates a form of expression seen as particularly feminine.
Amer has shown her work all over the world, including the Istanbul, Johannesburg, Whitney, Gwangju, Sydney and Venice biennales; in major travelling shows such as The Short Century; Looking Both Ways: Art of the Contemporary African Diaspora; and Africa Remix. She has exhibited at P.S. 1 in New York and SITE Santa Fe, and in 2008 the Brooklyn Museum hosted Love Has no End, a retrospective of twenty years of Amer’s work.
Amer trained to be an artist at Villa Arson, Nice, France.
She currently lives and works in New York City.
Text courtesy Goodman Gallery.
Now in its third instalment, DESERT X 2021 is among the first major art events to return to the region since California went into lockdown last year.
In Ghada Amer's paintings, threads behave like coloured rivers, abstraction obscures figuration and unknown women proliferate.
Ghada Amer, in her current exhibition at Cheim and Read, does something that formidable artists do: makes a proposal that is, in essence, unanswerable. In her 2016 painting Women in White, she combines outlines of women's bodies made in acrylic with embroidery that hangs over the figures to make them washy and vague. Only when I get closer to...
The Female Gaze, Part II: Women Looking at Men, a group show that runs at Cheim & Read through September 2, is as ambitious in scope as it is in ideology, showcasing work by a wide range of artists–including Tracey Emin, Alice Neel, Diane Arbus, and Jenny Holzer–who have applied a nontraditional lens to viewing and depicting...
Though discovered in 1974, in the midst of African decolonial processes and independence struggles, the original ancestor of all humankind, an African woman was given the name Lucy. But what about her African roots? What about her role as the mother of all humankind? Lucy’s Iris considers Lucy’s view of her prodigal daughters who...