This exhibition features largely recent works by Egyptian artist Ghada Amer. Born in Cairo in 1963, Amer spent a number of years in France and studied fine arts in Nice before moving to New York, where she now lives.

Handling subjects as delicate and personal as pleasure and love, Ghada Amer shows that it is possible to resist a conventional representation of women in art. Some of her iconographic references are drawn from the literature of porn and reveal women’s bodies as they are displayed for a heterosexual male audience. Clearly, in Amer’s work, art and pop culture overlap.

What she contrasts with high art, moreover, is a medium considered artisanal— embroidery—which she employs to represent these unseemly women engaged in their delectations, as she deliberately foregrounds the threads left behind by the “handiwork.” This female pleasure and leisure express the artist’s desire to merge a content and style in order to re-examine the criteria that are used to define artistic quality.

In this vein, several pictorial works in the exhibition refer to well-known artists (Ingres and Picasso, for example), who established a supposedly objective classification of those criteria. Taking works from the canon as her starting point, the artist observes the idealizing narrative construction of Western art history, indulging in a conventional presentation of an image of women that satisfies a voyeuristic gaze.

In allying art and pornographic imagery, pitting embroidery against painting and proposing a rereading of works emblematic of a certain evolution of art, Amer defies the discourses that determine what can suitably, even properly, be called “art.” In her own way, she casts a critical eye on material, support and representation, challenging hierarchies of any kind, whether of medium or gender.This exhibition will feature a selection of multidisciplinary artist Ghada Amer’s most important works.

Artist’s website

Commissarié par: Thérèse St-Gelais, guest curator