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Ghada Amer Portrait of a Girl in an Abstract Composition #2, 2014

© Ghada Amer. Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York


Ceramics, Knots, Thoughts, Scraps


Ghada Amer has devoted her career to investigating the female form and its objectification as it is manifested in visual culture. Amer’s motifs are immediately and intentionally familiar to audiences, calling attention to omnipresent depictions of women’s bodies in art history and popular culture. Working in media often seen as gendered, such as embroidery and ceramics, the artist draws her source material from pornography. Her subjects epitomize an exaggerated heteronormative sexual ideal.


Ceramics, Knots, Thoughts, Scraps is Amer’s first exhibition dedicated to ceramics. Known for her embroidered works on canvas, Amer has recently turned to a new medium. Her figurative plates and three-dimensional forms reference the legacy of male artists who represent highly gendered practices, including Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, and John Chamberlain. By evoking them, Amer reminds viewers of the predominance of male practitioners and female subjects in the art historical canon. She locates herself inside the lineage of these great artists, who, despite coming from different time periods and different locations, share a similar mythos of genius.


In conjunction with her figurative works, Amer presents pieces she refers to as Knots, Thoughts, and Scraps. Here they serve as a codex through which to explore technique and expression. Abstract and process-driven, they offer insight into the artist’s creative process and investment in experimentation.


While Amer’s embroidery speaks the language of painting, her ceramics serve as sculpture. In the artist’s hands the delicate, pliable nature of the clay is a fitting vehicle through which to evoke the fragility of edifice. The women Amer renders are presented as vessels. The illusion of women as purely aesthetic entities is easily shattered, much like the material they are incised into.


Ghada Amer (b. 1963) was born in Cairo, Egypt. She earned a BFA in 1986 and an MFA in 1989 from École Pilote Internationale d’Art et de Recherche, Villa Arson, Nice, France. In 1997 she was the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, and in 1999, she received the UNESCO award at the Venice Biennale. She has had solo exhibitions at San Francisco Art Institute; De Appel Foundation, Amsterdam; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Ind.; Brooklyn Museum; Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass. She participated in the Johannesburg Biennale in 1997, the Venice Biennale in 1999; the Kwangju Biennale, South Korea, and the Whitney Biennial, both in 2000; and the Venice Biennale in 2005. She now lives and works in New York.


Curated by Justine Ludwig


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SAMI ARSLANLAR + JOHN CLUTTS   Tammy Cotton Hartnett



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