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  • Provenance

    Gagosian Gallery, London
    Private Collection
    Christie's, London, June 22, 2006, lot 66
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

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

    Concealed behind a curtain of hanging threads, the sultry figures in Ghada Amer’s Grey Iman, 2001 transcend their physical form and at once give us a sensation of both pleasure and frustration. As our eyes dart throughout the picture plane to unravel the image, oscillating between the veiling and unveiling of female bodies, we are confronted by Amer’s own relationship to the canvas, painted with needle and thread. Though it is ambiguous where one figure begins and another ends, the foreground is littered with women in an array of suggestive poses, layered one over the other in black thread raining down the canvas to create a jarring optical illusion. Amer’s chosen medium of embroidery, an exercise drawing close connections to a domestic art, becomes a subversive tool in the artist’s hands. Pornographic images are not repudiated in Grey Iman, nor are they merely rejected as a symbol of submission. Instead, they are investigated, borrowed and transformed into an understated representation of female satisfaction.

    Notions of repetition are particularly significant both in the present lot and throughout the artist’s oeuvre, evident from the sheer multiplicity of figures to the physically repetitious nature of weaving, in and out with the needle and thread, and further echoed in the daily rituals for traditionally feminine roles in the decorative arts. Amer’s laborious process begins with photographic stills drawn onto vellum, then either reproduced onto stretched canvases or magnified, projected, and then outlined on the surfaces of the canvases, which are then unstretched and finally embroidered. The canvases are stretched once again, and the hanging threads are carefully adhered to the surface with a gel medium to mimic the effect of dripping paint. The total metamorphosis of the original photographs into a series of embroidered paintings highlights a marked shift from the traditional emblems of sex to a far more manifold and intimate visual expression. Of her method, Amer has explained, "I used very thin color because I was always afraid that if I used too much, it would move towards craft. My main goal is to make it look like paint. So if I go too much towards thread, there is too much material, and then it would only be regarded as craft or women’s work” (M. Walsh and R. Enright, “The Thread of Painting: An Interview with Ghada Amer”, Borders Crossing, Issue 111, August 2009). It is abstraction in Grey Iman which dominates our perceptions, and ultimately, the appearance and disappearance of female bodies that enables the work to seduce us and invite us to explore our own emotional responses.


Grey Iman

acrylic, embroidery and gel on canvas
72 x 64 in. (182.9 x 162.6 cm)
Signed "Ghada Amer" along the overlap. Further signed and dated "Ghada Amer 01" along the overlap.

$70,000 - 100,000 

Sold for $81,250

Contact Specialist
Rebekah Bowling
Head of Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1250

New Now Evening Sale

New York Auction 29 February 2016 6pm