Basim Magdy: The Stars Were Aligned for a Century of New Beginnings

Images

  • A brightly colored geometric shape floats in a starry sky above a figure wearing an equally colorful head dress and jumpsuit.
  • A larger-than-life fly appears silhouetted on off-white paper, the phrase "I KNOW THE SHAPE OF THE UNIVERSE" is superimposed in silver spray paint across its body.
A brightly colored geometric shape floats in a starry sky above a figure wearing an equally colorful head dress and jumpsuit.
  1. Long A three-dimensional geometric shape floats in a starry night sky, taking up most of the upper two-thirds of the painting. The shape is multi-faceted, with 7 faces showing. Each face has has a gradient of vibrant colors ranging from yellow to green, blue to pink, and red to black. The faces are flat and matte, stark against the spray-painted starry night sky. Behind the shape, we see black and grey stripes creating a shadow of the shape. The ground is white, as if it is covered by snow. There are four round-edged rectangles along the ground, in pastel colors. A small lone figure stands in the bottom center of the painting, wearing an orange jumpsuit with green side stripes, red gloves, dark blue boots, and a striped, semi-circular hat. The figure stands directly under the geometric shape, looking at us, and is dwarfed by the size of the geometric shape.
Basim Magdy, Every Decade Memory Poses as a Container Heavier than Its Carrier, 2013. Spray paint and acrylic on paper; 27 9/16 × 39 3/8 in. (70 × 100 cm). Deutsche Bank Collection.
A larger-than-life fly appears silhouetted on off-white paper, the phrase "I KNOW THE SHAPE OF THE UNIVERSE" is superimposed in silver spray paint across its body.
Basim Magdy, Expanding the Universe, 2008. Acrylic, spray paint, and gouache on paper; 15 × 20 in. (38 × 51 cm). Courtesy of hunt kastner, Prague.
Basim Magdy, The Dent, 2014. Super 16 mm film transferred to Full HD video; 19 minutes, 2 seconds. Commissioned by Abraaj Group Art Prize 2014, collection of the Abraaj Group Art Prize.
  1. Long A photographic image with a teal cast shows a circular platform with people looking off the edge to a body of water. The view is from above so that most of the frame is filled with the ocean. The platform is in the bottom right hand corner on top of a rock formation. A structure appears in the upper right. In the bottom right hand two more people stand on a separate piece of land, to which the platform is connected by a small bridge. People appear to be wearing swimwear, it is a bright sunny day.
Basim Magdy, An Apology to a Love Story that Crashed into a Whale (detail), 2016. 64 chromogenic development prints from chemically altered slides on FujiFlex Crystal Archive metallic material; each: 18 9/10 × 28 3/10 in. (48 × 72 cm); installation dimensions variable. Commissioned by Deutsche Bank Art. Courtesy of Gypsum Gallery, Cairo; hunt kastner, Prague; artSümer, Istanbul.
Basim Magdy, An Apology to a Love Story that Crashed into a Whale (detail), 2016. 64 chromogenic development prints from chemically altered slides on FujiFlex Crystal Archive metallic material; each: 18 9/10 × 28 3/10 in. (48 × 72 cm); installation dimensions variable. Commissioned by Deutsche Bank Art. Courtesy of Gypsum Gallery, Cairo; hunt kastner, Prague; artSümer, Istanbul.
Basim Magdy, 13 Essential Rules for Understanding the World, 2011. Super 8 film transferred to HD video; 5 minutes, 16 seconds. Courtesy of artSümer, Istanbul; Gypsum Gallery, Cairo; hunt kastner, Prague.

About

Trained as a painter, artist Basim Magdy (Egyptian, b. 1977) began experimenting with colorful works on paper and canvas before moving into the realm of photography and cinema. In a process he dubs “pickling,” the artist applies household chemicals to analog film and photographic material. The results are sumptuous, spectral photographic visions of landscapes, presented as large-scale prints, slide projections, and film.

The MCA presents Magdy’s first US museum survey, featuring rarely seen and new pieces. His works across media—which evoke a pop sensibility in contrast to their grim titles, such as They Endorsed Collective Failure as the Dawn of a New Renaissance and The Bitterness of What Could Have Happened and What Ended Up Happening—speak to our collective ambition for a utopian future and the inherent failure of this human aspiration. This presentation includes newly commissioned works for the MCA as well as a specially produced artist book.

The exhibition is organized by the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle in Berlin as part of the Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year 2016. It is overseen at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago by Omar Kholeif, Manilow Senior Curator.

The exhibition is presented in the Bergman Family Gallery on the museum's second floor.

Installation Images

  • Seven colorful images are displayed adjacent in a row against a purple wall. Each image depicts a different subject.
Installation view, Basim Magdy: The Stars Were Aligned for a Century of New Beginnings, Dec 10, 2016–Mar 19, 2017, MCA Chicago. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Basim Magdy: The Stars Were Aligned for a Century of New Beginnings, Dec 10, 2016–Mar 19, 2017, MCA Chicago. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Basim Magdy: The Stars Were Aligned for a Century of New Beginnings, Dec 10, 2016–Mar 19, 2017, MCA Chicago. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Basim Magdy: The Stars Were Aligned for a Century of New Beginnings, Dec 10, 2016–Mar 19, 2017, MCA Chicago. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Seven colorful images are displayed adjacent in a row against a purple wall. Each image depicts a different subject.
Installation view, Basim Magdy: The Stars Were Aligned for a Century of New Beginnings, Dec 10, 2016–Mar 19, 2017, MCA Chicago. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Basim Magdy: The Stars Were Aligned for a Century of New Beginnings, Dec 10, 2016–Mar 19, 2017, MCA Chicago. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Basim Magdy: The Stars Were Aligned for a Century of New Beginnings, Dec 10, 2016–Mar 19, 2017, MCA Chicago. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Funding

Basim Magdy: The Stars Were Aligned for a Century of New Beginnings is made possible by support from the Global Visions Fund.

Generous support for Basim Magdy is provided by the Harris Family Foundation in memory of Bette and Neison Harris: Caryn and King Harris, Katherine Harris, Toni and Ron Paul, Pam and Joe Szokol, Linda and Bill Friend, and Stephanie and John Harris; R. H. Defares; and the Margot and W. George Greig Ascendant Artist Fund.

Major support is provided by the Barjeel Art Foundation.

Additional generous support is provided by the Shulamit Nazarian Foundation, Marilyn and Larry Fields, Lynn and Allen Turner, Rodney Lubeznik and Susan D. Goodman, and Ahmer M. and Noreen K. Ahmad.