ARTFORUM PREVIEW / KAELEN WILSON-GOLDIE 2016
Basim Magdy - Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)
Rainbows, prisms, and a bouquet of tulips with playful faces drawn on their petals. Industrial wastelands and barren cityscapes. Soldiers, superheroes, skeletons, and a giant squid paired with a rocket. Basim Magdy’s first-ever US museum survey offers an introduction to the Egyptian artist’s sprawling, cheerfully sinister visual vocabulary via thirty-six works from the past decade, including drawings, paintings, films, photographs, and installations that reveal a perpetual remixing of tragicomic iconography. Magdy’s materials (gouache, spray paint, pen, Super 8 film dyed with household chemicals) are seductive and nostalgic. But his use of text—axioms, aphorisms, and witticisms that are superimposed on photos and films—is by turns bracingly critical and wry. In the accompanying catalogue, Kholeif and four other curators parse the various tensions (“word/picture,” “past/future,” “digital/analog,” “hope/disaster”) at play in Magdy’s oeuvre.