Ghada Amer

1963 | Cairo, Egypt
Ghada Amer — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

© Brian Buckley

— Studio Ghada Amer

Egyptian painter and embroiderer.

When her diplomat father moved his family first to Nice and then Paris, the little Ghada Amer was only 11 years old. She would only return to her home country a decade later. President Anouar el-Sadate had been assassinated by Islamic militants, and she noticed that Western fashion had been adapted to suit local restrictions. Venus magazine, aimed at veiled women, was a medium specifically designed to showcase this particular fashion. Advertisements from the biggest fashion houses were routinely retouched. The young artist was intrigued by this manipulation. Coming from painting, influenced by, namely, abstract expressionism, she decided to turn to a distinctly “feminine” art by substituting pigment for thread. She takes up embroidery, basing her work on the images of female figures found in magazines, and in that way examining the construction, point by point, of the place occupied by women, sexuality, and love in contemporary society.

During her first period (1991–1992), she used figurative embroidery to represent the domestic environment (Five Women at Work). To sever the link between herself and her subjects, she then decided to use pornographic images. The needle eroticises the canvas. The embroidery is lazy, threads are tangled or dangle: they provoke a pictorial effect resembling that of a dripping Pollock. She also embroiders texts related to Arabic romantic culture: all of the passages in the Koran that deal with women, in Private Rooms (1998), or a medieval Arabic treatise on the topic of pleasure called Encyclopedia of Pleasure. Since the 1990s, she has also created gardens: The Space for Pulling Off Daisy Petals (1997), at the Crestet Centre d’Art in Vaison-la-Romaine, and Peace Garden (2002), at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden.

Lamia Balafrej

Translated from French by Toby Cayouette.

From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque
© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Linked articles
Linked themes
Discover other artists

of Women Artists
& Exhibitions

Facebook - AWARE Twitter - AWARE Instagram - AWARE
Villa Vassilieff - 21, avenue du Maine 75015 Paris (France) — info[at]aware-art[.]org — +33 (0)1 55 26 90 29