In the Studio with Ghada Amer: Preparation For a Painting

“I stretch, prepare, I paint, I draw, and then I stretch again, and then I glue it.

I prepare my own canvas. I buy my stretchers, and I buy raw cotton duck. I stretch the raw canvas on my stretcher then put four to five coats minimum (maximum 10 coats depending on the effect I want to achieve) of gel medium; the first coats are very diluted and progressively thicker. Then I add four coats of Titanium white, from very diluted in the beginning to normal consistency at the end. Then either Reza or I paint the canvas. (If it is an ‘RFGA’ painting, it is Reza who paints it; if not it is myself.) Then I draw the text or the female figures. I then un-stretch the canvas, then sew it. I do not sew from the back of the painting. It just looks so, but it is sewn from the front. Then after the sewing is done I re-stretch it and glue the thread with gel medium.

All of my work involves a lot of stretching. Even if the canvas and the bars are the same size they’re always different—it’s always like one-eighth of an inch off. So when I stretch I always keep a reference, even the direction of the canvas. If you try to reposition it after upside-down, it’s not going to fit.”— Ghada Amer

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Photograph by Alec Bastian

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