WHITE GIRLS, 2017
Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas
Work: 162.6 x 182.9 cm
Many of Ghada Amer’s paintings make art historical references in subversive and humorous ways. White Girls and White Kiss subtly offer racial commentary, critiquing whiteness as a convention while addressing Robert Ryman. The cascading and pooling thread, omnipresent in Amer’s work, recalls Jackson Pollock. Jenni Sorkin writes in the catalogue essay, Ghada Amer's Material Plunder (2018) , “Ghada Amer has utilized the lush landscape of the art historical past from which to plunder—re-casting the role of women as subject, versus object.” Here, the female figures are naked, rendered in the style of idealized fashion sketches articulated with minimalist lines, a style that has long blurred the distinction between female and feminine. The combination of drawing and dangling thread that hangs over the portraits like a forest of vines or a cage of hair makes the work even more visually seductive. The tendrils slightly obscure the female figure and make her more desirable because she can’t be fully visually possessed. Herein lies the tension, a woman’s body does not make the decisions regarding how she is represented nor seen. Rather, the culture around her body does this — a culture that makes her body into a territory to be conquered, a chance to be wooed, a citadel to be protected, a prize to be revered — all ways of diminishing the person to the mere status of an object of desire.