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I believe that all women should like their bodies and use them as tools of seduction

– Ghada Amer

Goodman Gallery presents My Body My Choice - Ghada Amer’s first solo show in London in twenty years. The exhibition brings together a new body of work, including Amer’s signature thread and canvas paintings as well as sculptures and a garden installation, never before realised in the UK.

Amer’s work addresses the ambiguous, transitory nature of the paradox that arises when searching for concrete definitions of East and West, feminine and masculine, art and craft. Through her paintings, sculptures and public garden projects, the artist takes traditional notions of cultural identity, abstraction, and religious fundamentalism and turns them on their head.

Recognising that women are taught to model behaviours and traits shaped by others, and that art history and the history of painting in particular are shaped largely by expressions of masculinity, Amer’s work actively subverts these frameworks through aesthetics and content. Her practice explores the complicated nature of identity as it is developed through cultural and religious norms as well as personal longings and understandings of the self.

 

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Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Installation view | Ghada Amer, My Body My Choice, Goodman Gallery London, 2022. Image: Alexander James Edwards

Ghada Amer | My Body My Choice - Goodman Gallery London - Viewing Room - Goodman Gallery Viewing Room

My Body My Choice, 2021

Resin planters, soil, plants

Variable Dimensions

Edition of 3

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Since 1997, Amer has widened her artistic practice by creating gardens in outdoor, public spaces. She has conceived, drawn, and built gardens in a range of locations across several continents, most recently in France, the US (California, New York City, Colorado), Mexico, and Morocco. This exhibition marks the first time that the artist has shown a garden work in the UK. Amer’s approach innovates the very genre of artistic gardens, creating a hybrid model where art, public space, and spectators merge and are transformed through a dynamic encounter.

Ghada Amer | My Body My Choice - Goodman Gallery London - Viewing Room - Goodman Gallery Viewing Room

Body Culture, 2021
Embroidery and gel medium on canvas

101.6 x 121.9 cm / 40 x 48 in.

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In Amer’s erotic embroideries, the artist rejects oppressive laws set in place to govern women’s attitudes toward their bodies. At the same time, her work repudiates first-wave Western feminist theory that the body must be denied in order to prevent victimisation. By depicting explicit sexual acts with the delicacy of needle and thread, Amer’s figures assume a tenderness that simple objectification ignores.

Background text:

A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty but an obsession about female obedience

Ghada Amer | My Body My Choice - Goodman Gallery London - Viewing Room - Goodman Gallery Viewing Room

Elohim, 2022
Embroidery and gel medium on canvas

101.6 x 121.9 cm / 40 x 48 in.

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The citations that are carefully embroidered on Amer’s paintings do not speak directly about the status of women in a particular society nor do they address what is going on in the US or in the Middle East. Rather, her paintings remind the viewer that women must be vigilant over the rights they have acquired and never take their liberation for granted:

“In Western societies, there is an assumption, especially among the younger generations, that the battle of the sexes has been won, that women have been liberated, and that their rights are secure. And yet, we are witnessing today a sharp regression of women’s rights and a stark rise of violence against women. However, in countries where one assumes women’s rights to be limited or absent, such as in Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, or Mexico, women of the younger generation know they have a lot to gain from fighting for those very same rights that are eroding in the West. So they are not letting down their guard and they are continuing to fight fiercely.”

Background text:

Elohim, the name for the creative power in Genesis, literally means “goddesses”. Grammatically, Elohim is a female plural noun.

Ghada Amer | My Body My Choice - Goodman Gallery London - Viewing Room - Goodman Gallery Viewing Room

Confidence, 2022
Embroidery and gel medium on canvas

152.4 x 127 cm / 60 x 50 in.

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The embroidered phrases which are repeated on the canvases relate to diverse teachings on women’s rights that have been extracted from publications written by female and male authors of varying backgrounds. These publications range from writing by Egyptian feminist Nawal El Saadawi to American actress Angelina Jolie to former Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein. For the artist, they are “mantras, incantations that the viewer will hopefully end up remembering” as a prompt to “continuously mobilise, fight, and never let our arduously acquired rights fade away and vanish.”

Ghada Amer | My Body My Choice - Goodman Gallery London - Viewing Room - Goodman Gallery Viewing Room

Witches, 2022
Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas

127 x 152.4 cm / 50 x 60 in.

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Background text:

We were taught to fear the witches and not those who burned them alive

Ghada Amer | My Body My Choice - Goodman Gallery London - Viewing Room - Goodman Gallery Viewing Room

Dripping Jenny, 2021
Edition of 3 + 1 AP
With plinth
196 x 38.6 x 92.7 cm / 77.1 x 15 x 36.4 x in.

Without plinth

103 x 28.7 x 92.7 x cm / 40.5 x 11.3 x 36.5 in

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The flat sculptures in the exhibition play with shadow and perspective and bear striking parallels to her well-known drip paintings. They were cast in South Africa’s Workhorse Bronze Foundry and have been realised as ‘drawings in space’ – a technique that the artist developed during a residency in 2017 at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Wisconsin.

Ghada Amer | My Body My Choice - Goodman Gallery London - Viewing Room - Goodman Gallery Viewing Room

Suzy, 2021
Plated Bronze
Edition of 3 + 1 AP
With plinth
206 x 38.5 x 103.6 cm / 81.1 x 15 x 40.7 in.

Without plinth
114 x 28.5 x 103.6 cm / 44.8 x 11.2 x 40.7 in.

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The technique involves moulding with clay before the work is cast in bronze. For Amer, this was an essential period of training that allowed her to master the process of moulding large sculptures: “I wanted to learn how to paint with clay so that I could portray women in my sculptures as expressively as I do in my painting.”

Ghada Amer | My Body My Choice - Goodman Gallery London - Viewing Room - Goodman Gallery Viewing Room

The Black Knot, 2014
Ceramic
29.2 x 31.8 x 30 cm / 11.5 x 12.5 x 11.8 in.

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Ghada Amer | My Body My Choice - Goodman Gallery London - Viewing Room - Goodman Gallery Viewing Room

The White Plate, 2017
Glazed ceramic with porcelain inlay

63.5 x 86.4 x 30.5 cm / 25 x 34 x 12 in.

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ANOTHER BLACK PAINTING, 2019
Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas

150 x 183 cm / 59 x 72 in.

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ANOTHER BLACK PAINTING, 2019
Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas

150 x 183 cm / 59 x 72 in.

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Portrait of Ellen, 2020
Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas

114.3 x 114.3 cm cm / 45 x 45 in.

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Portrait of Ellen, 2020
Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas

114.3 x 114.3 cm cm / 45 x 45 in.

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Small Leaves - RFGA, 2014

Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas

91.4 x 106.7 cm / 36 x 42 in.

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Small Leaves - RFGA, 2014

Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas

91.4 x 106.7 cm / 36 x 42 in.

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Portrait of Charlotte, 2020
Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas

114.3 x 114.3 cm cm / 45 x 45 in.

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Portrait of Charlotte, 2020
Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas

114.3 x 114.3 cm cm / 45 x 45 in.

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Portrait of Ellen, 2020
Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas

114.3 x 114.3 cm cm / 45 x 45 in.

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Portrait of Ellen, 2020
Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas

114.3 x 114.3 cm cm / 45 x 45 in.

Enquire

Small Leaves - RFGA, 2014

Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas

91.4 x 106.7 cm / 36 x 42 in.

Enquire

Small Leaves - RFGA, 2014

Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas

91.4 x 106.7 cm / 36 x 42 in.

Enquire

Portrait of Charlotte, 2020
Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas

114.3 x 114.3 cm cm / 45 x 45 in.

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Portrait of Charlotte, 2020
Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas

114.3 x 114.3 cm cm / 45 x 45 in.

Enquire

 

Ghada Amer

Ghada Amer (b.1963, Cairo, Egypt) grew up in Nice, France and completed her undergraduate degrees and MFA at Villa Arson École Nationale Supérieure. Amer’s practice spans painting, sculpture, ceramics, works on paper, as well as garden and mixed-media installations. Amer’s work is in public collections around the world, including The Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, NY; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Guggenheim Museum, Abu Dhabi; the Israel Museum, Jerusalem and the Samsung Museum, Seoul. Amer has exhibited in prestigious group shows and biennials such as the Johannesburg Biennale, 1997; Whitney Biennial, 2000; the Venice Biennales of 1999, 2005 and 2007 and Desert X, 2021 in Palm Springs where she exhibited the most recent of her garden installations. In 2008 she presented a midcareer retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York. Multiple institutions across Marseille, France are currently planning a retrospective for Amer that will open at Mucem this December, which will travel to the United States and to Asia. Amer is also collaborating with Dior later this year on a new iteration of the classic Lady Dior handbag for which she has drawn inspiration from her ‘Women’s Qualities’ garden sculpture.