Shehab Awad profiles the Egyptian artist Ahmed Badry in a striking photo essay in Mada Masr, titled “Ahmed Badry: Meticulously structured chaos.” In the essay, Awad describes Badry’s influences, practice, artistic vision, and achievements. She focuses particularly on his expansion from two-dimensional to three-dimensional art. Badry’s work in sculpture is highlighted as a fixation on ordinary objects that necessitated a new medium. Badry imagines these objects as exceeding themselves and taking up a far larger space. As Awad writes, “the medium [of sculpture] enables him to assign different masses to his ideas, thereby allowing them to reach their full material capacity”:
Ahmed begins with a visual stimulant: an image that sticks in his head. Then he turns himself into a factory that’s producing a prototype, planning and sketching the sculpture-to-be multiple times. These are very different from the slick, single-line drawings he exhibits. The drawings he makes before he sculpts resemble architectural blueprints. They allow him to get a good sense of how the various components of the structure would finally fit together. He then multiplies the measurements with a calculated ratio to enlarge the dimensions while keeping the shape intact. Using a makeshift compass, he proceeds to outline the shape on a sheet of recycled cardboard, cuts it out, and repeats. He then assembles the cutouts together using strong tape, constantly adding layers until the sculpture is complete.
He gets his recycled cardboard from Cairo’s Attaba district, and reuses discarded cardboard rolls for circular shapes. He likes sculpting with cardboard because it’s light, and he finds it easy to control. Ahmed particularly enjoys the deception in the sense of mass that he can create using cardboard. His objects look extremely heavy, as if they were made from gypsum or even cement; only he knows how easy it is to physically interact with them, and their true light weight.
At first, he wasn’t completely sure what he was doing when he started dealing with scale this way, and says he acted on an instinctive desire to produce large objects. He explained that when an image got stuck in his head, it would take up all his thought space; recreating it in larger proportions, whether as a painting or sculpture, was all he could do, because that’s the only way he visualized it.
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