In Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, a two-person exhibition displaying a series of new collaborative works by Ghada Amer and Reza Farkhondeh, titled Love is a Difficult Blue, is currently on view. Amer is a painter best known for her erotic embroideries, whilst Farkhondeh works across numerous mediums, including video, painting, text and watercolour. The premise of this current show explores how both artists, working in different media, look to women and nature for inspiration. The status of women in society and in art history has long been of concern for both Amer and Farkhondeh, meaning that when they collaborate, their joint vision shows the fragility of lives in relation to nature and society.

The artists chose to draw on used Pellon (a synthetic fabric that is commonly used in papermaking) and on paper that creates a dream-like and ethereal rendering of bodies, flora and fauna with an effaced quality. Farkhondeh describes the process of creating these works as “highlighting the organic memory embedded in the Pellon by adding layers of drawings onto the surface.” This results in unpacking layering techniques in painting that provide a multi-perspectival view of looking at these works. They are not just pretty pictures and their surfaces tell of the artists’ commitment to pushing the boundaries of print and image-making. Drawing creates a space to really understand the human mark, that is, a process of mark-making on paper and linen, a glaze on ceramics and even a line in space.

Farkhondeh and Amer welcome the status of combined male-female authorship. They disrupt boundaries of “shape and form,” “drawing and painting,” “pencil and brush” and “collage and sewing.” These works seek to engage viewers with “notions of beauty, intelligence and independence of women,” framed in a context of perceived repression in many technologically advanced societies.

Featured image: Ghada Amer & Reza Farkhondeh, Blue Window, 2017, Ink, acrylic, fabric and embroidery on paper, 56.8 x 75.8 cm, Photo Credit , Brian Buckley

A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, Curriculum Vitae #44, pages 44-45.