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b. 1963, Egypt

Ghada Amer Biography

Ghada Amer (b. 1963, Cairo) is best known for her subversive embroidered paintings that appropriate imagery from pornographic magazines as a means of creating an entirely feminine and feminist language of painting. She studied at the Villa Arson in Nice, where she was told that certain painting classes were reserved exclusively for male students. This served as the pivotal moment for Amer's practice, at which point she began to create her own unique space within the medium of painting. Her consistent use of embroidery in her paintings, a skill traditionally associated with femininity or 'women's work,' in conjunction with the erotic imagery of women in positions of sexual pleasure realigns our notions of objectification. Historically the female nude as rendered by the male artist reduced the painting's subject to mere physical body deprived of agency. The embroidery imbues each image with a tenderness that bypasses this reduction. 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. The women in Amer's paintings are neither objects nor victims, but rather autonomous subjects with inalienable identities.

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Even outside of her painting practice, such as with her garden installations, ceramics, and sculptures, Amer continues to consider notions of femininity and love. She links each of these media to the act of painting. 'All my work is about painting and [the] history of painting,' says Amer. Her sculptures and gardens frequently incorporate language, as with Women's Qualities, which was staged first during the Busan Biennale in 2000 and again in 2020 for Frieze Sculpture at Rockefeller Center. Both times, Amer asked passersby what qualities they would attribute to women. She then took the most common responses and spelled them out in flower beds. The words ranged from 'docile' and 'virgin' in the earlier iteration and expanded to 'kind,' 'resilient,' and 'independent' for the later installation. The evolution of the project reveals changing notions of feminine identity, from an expectation of subservience into an equally impossible and unrealistic view of woman as a modern goddess.

Recently, Amer began exploring ceramics in a two-year residency at the Greenwich House Pottery Studio. They show her interest in circumventing the boundaries of media, as the ceramics function as 'paintings' that exist within the space itself. This notion extends even into early studies for ceramics done on cardboard, as the works can be appreciated from all angles. She found the studies so compelling that she kept them as unique artworks themselves, which places her squarely within the ages-long tradition of viewers treasuring the earliest manifestation of an artist's idea for a work, as they worked through the inspiration.

Amer's works have been exhibited at a wide variety of institutions including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Biennial, the Venice Biennale, the Brooklyn Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow, among others. Her works can be found in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Brooklyn Museum, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Museo Jumex in Mexico City, the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Arkansas, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, and the Leeum, Samsung Museum in Seoul, among others.

Text courtesy Tina Kim Gallery.

Ghada Amer Featured Artworks

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Portrait of Charlotte by Ghada Amer contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, sculpture
Ghada Amer Portrait of Charlotte, 2020 Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas
114.3 x 114.3 cm
Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
My body my choice by Ghada Amer contemporary artwork sculpture
Ghada Amer My body my choice, 2021 Resin planters, soil, plants
Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
Portrait of Ellen by Ghada Amer contemporary artwork painting, textile
Ghada Amer Portrait of Ellen, 2020 Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas
114.3 x 114.3 cm
Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
Homage à Tut in Black and White by Ghada Amer contemporary artwork sculpture
Ghada Amer Homage à Tut in Black and White, 2021 Painted bronze
59.2 x 44 x 2.8 cm
Tina Kim Gallery Contact Gallery
The Gypsy Girl by Ghada Amer contemporary artwork sculpture
Ghada Amer The Gypsy Girl, 2017 Glazed ceramic
25.5 x 35.5 x 12.5 inches
Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
Study for a Broken Box #1 by Ghada Amer contemporary artwork painting
Ghada Amer Study for a Broken Box #1, 2017 Acrylic and ink on cardboard
76.2 x 196.9 cm
Tina Kim Gallery Contact Gallery
Baisers 1 by Ghada Amer contemporary artwork sculpture
Ghada Amer Baisers 1, 2011/2012 Black painted bronze
57.2 x 40.6 x 50.8 cm
Tina Kim Gallery Contact Gallery
Girl in a Red Landscape by Ghada Amer contemporary artwork sculpture
Ghada Amer Girl in a Red Landscape, 2014 Ceramic
25.51 x 22.99 x 0.98 inches
Tina Kim Gallery Contact Gallery

Ghada Amer Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Ghada Amer Represented By

Goodman Gallery contemporary art gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa Goodman Gallery Cape Town, East Hampton, Johannesburg, London

Ghada Amer In Ocula Magazine

Ghada Amer In Related Press

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How Egyptian artist Ghada Amer has weaved an expression of feminism into her paintings Related Press How Egyptian artist Ghada Amer has weaved an expression of feminism into her paintings 13 April 2021, The National News

In Ghada Amer's paintings, threads behave like coloured rivers, abstraction obscures figuration and unknown women proliferate.

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How Ghada Amer Uses Seduction to Expose Sexism Related Press How Ghada Amer Uses Seduction to Expose Sexism 10 May 2018, Hyperallergic

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 combi

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'The last taboo is the penis': John Cheim on 'The Female Gaze, Part II: Women Looking at Men' at Cheim & Read Related Press 'The last taboo is the penis': John Cheim on 'The Female Gaze, Part II: Women Looking at Men' at Cheim & Read 10 August 2016, ARTNews

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...

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African women first: 'Lucy’s Iris' at Musée Départmental d’Art Contemporain, Rochechouart Related Press African women first: 'Lucy’s Iris' at Musée Départmental d’Art Contemporain, Rochechouart 10 August 2016, Art Radar Journal

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...

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Ghada Amer In Video & Audio

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