The Egyptian-born artist Ghada Amer (born in 1963, lives and works in New York City), has made a name for herself with multilayered embroided depictions of female sexuality on canvas. Closely linked to an aesthetic language reminiscent of specific crafts traditionally associated to women, her works question established power structures and gender stereotypes. Using the images of self-confident, tantalizing women that she finds in magazines, Amer questions the boundaries between nudity and pornography and opposes institutionalized sexism.
Like her, Iranian Reza Farkhondeh (born in 1963, is an art graduate of Villa Arson in France, where they met in 1988. Both artists moved to New York in 1996 and established their studios in Harlem. For many years, ever-changing differences between Western and Middle Eastern cultures had been the topic of Farkondehs widespread artistic practice ranging from videos and short films to drawings and paintings. After having dedicated a painterly series to 99-cents plastic objects, though, he started painting landscapes, flowers and trees in 2001, using different techniques and materials like fabric, masking tape and watercolors.
Shortly afterwards, Amer and Farkondeh started collaborating on a series of drawings and prints and since then have continued to produce mixed-media works under their acronym RFGA. Signing their collaborative works together, they prove that making art is not about gender and welcome the status of combined authorship. The artists complete each other‘s works by handing them back and forth between their studios like in a game of tag whispers. Farkhondeh adds to Amer’s explicit depictions of female eroticism the shapes and beauty of nature and vice versa. Like this, their works on paper develop organically, each artist adding different elements to them until they are both satisfied with the result. Working together they enrich each other’s visual vocabulary while they probe the boundaries of the different artistic media and genres. Their collaborative as well as their individual works question the status of women in society and art history.
At this year‘s Dakar Biennale, a comprehensive selection of their collaborative drawings made in the 2000s could be seen. During their residency at Cerámica Suro in Mexico, in the summer of 2018, they have expanded their collaboration to the field of ceramics.