Ghada Amer



30 September – 28 November 00


Opening: 30.09.2000, 5 - 9 pm

From a distance Ghada Amer's paintings appear like abstract webs of threads on monochrome or luminously painted backgrounds. Only when coming closer the spectator realises that the apparently casually arranged threads and colours are composed of the repetition of explicit motives of unrestrained female sensuality: images of women caressing themselves taken from cheesy magazines.

Amer undermines the tradition of the American Expressionists formally as well as in terms of content. On the one hand she combines the "high" art of modern painting with the "low" one of soft porn magazines and junk culture. On the other she parallels the powerful, "masculine" gesture of abstract expressionism with the vernacular tradition of women's embroidery.

The subtle tension, which characterises all of Amer's works, does not only testify her confrontation with the art and the role of men in western society, but must also be seen in relation to her Islamic origins and her concerns regarding the restrains on women's self-expression in the contemporary Islamic world. For example, the web of floating threads alludes to Islamic calligraphy just as much as to the veils still worn by many Islamic women.

With her deep respect for her own culture and for the European and American societies, which she knows very well, Ghada Amer is not interested in sensationalising effects or narrow minded Feminism. As Joy Garnett pointed out "with its persistent myth of feminine virtue, Ghada Amer's work refuses to bow to the puritanical elements of both our general culture and what could be called "institutionalised feminism". The dance of revolving stereotypes, of desire and virtue, lust and denial, exposure and veiled elusiveness, are teased-out on the surfaces of these canvases, and left unravelled in all their complexity. Unresolved, sexed up and as yet unconsummated." (, April 2000)

Ghada Amer was born in 1963 in Kairo and spent most of her childhood in Libya, Morocco, Algeria and France. She studied art in Nice and Paris. Her works have been shown in numerous exhibition, among others in the Greater New York exhibition of the PS1, the last Whitney Biennial and in the Lyon Biennial 2000. In 1999 the artist was given the Unesco Price of the Venice Biennial. Since 1997 Ghada Amer lives and works in New York.

The exhibition comprises 14 paintings. A catalogue with texts by Nehama Guralnik, Olu Oguibe and Mordechai Omer has been published in English, Hebrew and Arabic editions. (Kal Press Ltd., Tel Aviv)

Parts of the exhibition have been shown at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art from June 15th to September 9th, 2000, and at the Lyon Biennial 2000.