Ghada Amer (Arabic: غادة عامر, born 1963 in Cairo, Egypt) is a contemporary artist living and working in New York City.
She emigrated from Egypt to the US at age 11 and was educated in Paris and Nice.
MILEY AND MANDY 2009
Much of her work deals with issues of gender and sexuality, particularly the representation of female nudes in art history as ideal objects rather than human beings with a sexuality and eroticism of their own.
Lisa and Britney (2009)
Her most notable body of work involves highly layered embroidered paintings of women’s bodies referencing pornographic imagery She is represented by Cheim & Read Gallery.
While she describes herself as a painter and has won international recognition for her abstract canvases embroidered with erotic motifs, Ghada Amer is a multimedia artist whose body of work is infused with the same ideological and aesthetic concerns.
Her work has been described as feminist due to the way it challenges to the traditionally masculine genre of painting, and its rejection of the norms of female sexuality. Her oeuvre includes examples of painting, drawing, sculpture, performance, and installation.
Amer’s multiple geographic relocations are reflected in her work. Her painting is influenced by the idea of shifting meanings and the appropriation of the languages of abstraction and expressionism.
Who Killed ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ (2010)
Her prints, drawings, and sculptures question cliché roles imposed on women; her garden projects connect embroidery and gardening as specifically “feminine” activities; and her recent installations address the current tumultuous political climate.
Despite the differences between her Islamic upbringing and Western models of behavior, Amer’s work addresses universal problems, such as the oppression of women, which are prevalent in all cultures.
The submission of women to the tyranny of domestic life, the celebration of female sexuality and pleasure, the incomprehensibility of love, the foolishness of war and violence, and an overall quest for formal beauty, constitute the territory that she explores and expresses in her art.
Amer’s work has been presented in numerous solo and group exhibitions at such venues as Cheim & Read New York, Deitch Projects, New York;
the big black Kansas city painting.
the 2000 Whitney Biennial, New York; P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; the 2000 Gwangju Biennale, South Korea; SITE Santa Fe, NM; the 1999 Venice Biennale; the 1997 Johannesburg Biennale; Gagosian Gallery, London and Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills.
AGE OF INNOCENCE 2010 Reza Farkhondeh & Ghada Amer
She is the first Arab artist to have a one-person exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
A detail of her work, Knotty but Nice was used on the cover of the September 2006 cover of ARTnews magazine, as part of a focus on erotic art.
Snow White Without the Dwarves 2009
In 2003, Amer’s work was included inLooking Both Ways: Art of the Contemporary African Diaspora, at The Museum for African Art in Queens.
In early 2008, a retrospective of her work was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, at the museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. In the same year, she was featured in Chiara Clemente’s documentary “Our City Dreams”.
• Art Institute of Chicago
THE WORDS I LOVE THE MOST, 2012
• Birmingham Museum of Art
ERICA AND MISSY (PURPLE) 2009.
• Centre Pompidou
• Museum Kunst Palast
sleeping beauty without castles.
• Samsung Museum of Art
• Tel Aviv Museum of Art
It is always a thrill to come across an artist whose work is not only aesthetically pleasing, but which also provokes the viewers to continually ponder the work long after it is seen. Egyptian (and NYC-based) artist Ghada Amer’s work does just that.
Amer takes images of women usually only seen in pornography and completely re-envisions those images into amazing pieces of art. Starting with a painted canvas, Amer at times uses embroidery to outline the woman’s figure.
mosaic memory of tongues
As a traditional female craft (and one that often linked to portrayals of “virtuous” ladies), her use of embroidery is particularly fascinating.
E-Kimberly in red and yellow
Amer’s work seems to also take female eroticism out of the dark and hands it back to the viewer as something normal and beautiful that doesn’t need to be hidden away.
Lady in Pink Reza Farkhondeh & Ghada Amer
That Amer comes from a part of the continent that is traditional very conservation (although she spent many years in France and the US) makes her work stand out even more and begs to question what else is going on in the world of women in this part of the continent!
While I would definitely take any of her pieces, this last one is one of my personal favorites and I could so easily find a space in my home for this.
With price tags that start around $65,000 and just keep going up from there, I may just have to keep dreaming of this for a little while longer…..
Cheim & Read is pleased to announce an exhibition of recent painting and sculpture by Egyptian-born, New York artist Ghada Amer. The show will be accompanied by a full-color catalogue, with an essay by the French art historian Anne Creissels.
Ghada Amer is well known for brightly-colored, embroidered “paintings” in which depictions of women, often appropriated from soft-porn magazines, are carefully stitched and sewn on the canvas.
Extra thread is left to hang from the images’ contours like drips and splashes of paint, abstracting and obscuring the figures. By using the traditionally feminine, domestic activity of embroidery to re-contextualize her subject, Amer confronts cultural objectification of the female form, repositioning it for a feminist dialectic.
In new works for this exhibition, all completed between 2012 and 2014, Amer also introduces text – both English and Arabic – to her compositions, thus merging language with form and literally weaving the two together. Where previously images were repeated and patterned across the canvas, now words and phrases, borrowed from feminist texts and manifestos, reverberate in chant-like rhythm, providing underlying cadence to the oversized, come-hither renderings of women’s faces.
MY NYMPHEAS, 2011
Distorted by knots, webs, and skeins of embroidery thread, Amer’s text is a feminist “base” on which she situates her imagery. For example, Simone de Beauvoir’s statement, “One is not born but rather becomes a woman” vibrates behind the candy-colored threads of The Rainbow Girl, 2014; “No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body” produces the black vertical skeins which blur the open-mouthed Norah, 2014; the pastel-colored “I see my body as an instrument rather than an ornament” becomes almost indecipherable as it merges with the washy outline of the prone, bare breasted figure in Mandy, 2013.
Barbie Loves Ken, Ken Loves Barbie, 1995-2002
In other compositions, words alone are the focus: “Nobody gives you power you just take it” marches in stencil-letters across a rainbow-roll ground in Sunset with Words – RFGA, 2013. With these new works, Amer references not only the male-dominated history of painting (her “drips” of thread analogous to Abstract Expressionism’s gestural residues), but also engages what Creissels defines as the “phallocentric nature of language”– and thus aligns herself with other feminist artists (Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer) who reclaim language for feminine expression.
Also presented at Cheim & Read are a series of metal sculptures, in which word and image are calligraphically intertwined to create open, filigreed structures. As Creissels points out in her essay, the sculptures are “reminiscent of Mashrabiya” – the latticed wooden screens found in traditional Arabic architecture, which allow one to see out without being seen.
At once decorative and structural, transparent yet unyielding, Amer’s sculptural works confirm the dichotomies that pervade her artistic practice. The cultural contrast between the Middle East of her youth and the America where she now lives and works has fostered Amer’s awareness of how one sees others and one’s self. It has also been a long-standing influence on her work, inciting her close examination of stereotypes and ambiguities. Her ongoing themes, found in the pairings of east/west, art/craft, image/text, masculine/feminine, and high
Ghada Amer & Reza Farkhondeh
THE GARDENS NEXT DOOR – B 2010