18 Wooster Street
Ghada Amer’s paintings first appear to be abstract, sensuous webs of thread on luminously painted backgrounds that envelop the canvas like nerves or capillaries. As the works come into focus, however, the viewer enters into a world of unrestrained female sensuality. Images of women caressing themselves, appropriated from porn magazines, are lovingly embroidered onto the canvas. The sensual pleasure of painting is conflated with the sensual pleasures of the body.
In this ambitious exhibition, Amer took on the tradition of New York School painting from a contemporary woman’s point of view. She subtly debases the masculine tenor of the New York School by mixing it with another masculine tradition: the low-art culture of girlie magazines. The result is like a Trojan horse filled with feminine sensibility entering into the masculine arena and emerging victorious. The macho posturing of Abstract Expressionism is subverted by the vernacular art of cheap stroke books, and the high-art tradition of gestural painting is toppled by the craft tradition of women’s embroidery.
Amer’s subversive approach to New York School painting is paralleled by her confrontation with the restraints on women’s self-expression in the contemporary Islamic world. Upon returning to her native Cairo in the late 1980s, after spending most of her teenage years abroad, she was shocked to experience the new conservatism that compelled many women to return to wearing the veil. She began focusing her painting on the interior world of women behind the restraints imposed by a male-dominated society. Her work asserts a feminine power behind the masculine structures of both Islamic society and the tradition of modern painting.
Amer masters and manipulates the vocabulary of European and American modern art while asserting the sensibility of her Egyptian heritage. Her approach to art is neither Western, Middle Eastern, nor African but a unique fusion that has opened up new directions.
March 8 - 11, 2018
We will present a special solo project by the artist JR.
Image: JR, Migrants, Walking New York City, 2015
April - May 2018
18 Wooster Street
76 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013
Monday – Friday
10 AM – 6 PM
Tuesday – Saturday
Noon – 6 PM
The gallery reopens with People in April 2018.
+1 (212) 343-7300
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