SERGEANT PEPPER GOES FOR THE HIGH SCORE

By Gianni Jetzer

Mountains of ice cream, fluorescent mushrooms and flower stencils form the background for playful war sceneries, consisting of dozens of little aeroplanes, Pac men and robots. Like a secret observer we are glancing at this somehow psychedelic panoramic tableau. It reminds one of a classical battlefield and its artistic representation as in a 19th century scenic experience. War is in this case just a game, fighting for points and the highest score. History is replaced by a non-dramatic story line.

The first collaboration of Marianne Rinderknecht and Basim Magdy found place quite spontaneously in Cairo at the Townhouse Gallery. The generous wall space was completely covered with their colourful imagery. Both artistic languages fit extremely well together and are even intensified through the presence of the other. Marianne Rinderknecht, who stayed in Egypt for a residency, was mainly working on a kind of Pop botany, imagining the perspective of a little bug in the summer grass. The hot climate of Northern Africa caused her to chill down her vocabulary. Her constant dreams of ice cream led her to pastel mountains, soft ice for the eyes… This utopia is in the tradition of eatable landscapes as they are described in «Candy Land», but also of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland.

The focus of Basim Magdy’s art is on caricature. His films are little stories, animated drawings as comment on the «condition humaine». Close to slapstick they reflect the (non)-sense of life. To integrate video game figures into a painted composition is a similar strategy. Painted, the little figures enter a higher frame of attention as on a TV screen. Arranged as a composition, they achieve gravity. Nevertheless they constitute battlefields, reminding us of the unfriendly nature of man.

The panoramic landscape by Marianne Rinderknecht and Basim Magdy brings together psychedelic images and war (drugs play an important role on the battlefield), lollypop aesthetics and video games (some visitors see the work as «Japanese» for its playfulness), low tech and painting. It is in between «Yellow Submarine» and «Sergeant Pepper». Pilots getting out of the small jets would wear fantasy uniforms in bright colours and ask with friendliness: «Would you like to play with us?»

Gianni Jetzer is currently the director of the Swiss Institute, New York.
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