Credit to the Artist: Keizer, the Unknown Soldier of Jan25

Via Keizer’s Facebook.


He’s one of the renowned Jan25 graffiti artists. In the past five years we’ve seen many of his works at random walls in Cairo streets. His art reflects many of us, millennials; our thoughts, our questions and our despair. But at the same time Keizer drew many question marks around who he really is.


Photograph by : Valentina Primo
Photograph by : Valentina Primo


“Keizer rose from a wave of daring artists using art as to achieve social change, making people think for themselves by not locking them into restricted paradigms of thinking or confided mental landscapes. Keizer is the round Egyptian bread bun, my name signifies reaching the masses through art like our everyday bread. I’m not public about my identity for my own personal safety. Many street artists in 2011 were eager to show their faces on TV and the Internet and got monitored and intimidated pretty early on by the police state. On the other hand I wanted to continue doing this for as long as I could, so I took my precautions. Even though I know we’re all under surveillance in one way or another, I believe privacy is sacred. Unlike actors and singers that have an obligation to show their faces, my face is not public property; the art is sufficient to speak on my behalf,” he tells me when I asked him about his identity.



When did you realize you wanted to become a street artist?



“I realized I wanted to be a street artist two months before the Jan25 revolution. There was already rumors circulating and the unconfirmed possibility of huge numbers of people mobilizing. All I could think of was how would I contribute in such a revolutionary reality with all of these new and powerful thoughts, ideas and images and which medium would I choose if such a revolution were to happen. The first time I went out to spray a wall was in November in 2011. I went out to Dokki and I had the first motif and prototype, the symbol I would use for all my stencils: an ant.”



What do you like to focus on in your work?


Via Keizer’s Facebook Page.


“I focus on melding all-encompassing societal issues with unique subversive identifiable art, encouraging all who are able to view it to define what the work means to themselves personally. I insert coded and embedded metaphors and symbols that trigger associations with the people in connection with existing stereotypes, values, categories, and sensations, etc. At the same time, street art can modify and reshape the existing narratives. The interpretations of existing symbols are not uniform, but negotiable.”



What messages do you wish to convey through your work?


Via Keizer's Facebook. In Germany 2015.
Via Keizer’s Facebook. In Germany 2015.


“Think for yourself and question authority. The whole point is that it’s up to you to think and make up your own conclusions. And a lot of people in Egypt aren’t used to making their own conclusions — they’re used to being told how and what to think. The umbrella I work under is ‘love versus fear.’ Clearly fear is such a crippling element in our society nowadays and I am constantly battling that by making people question that reality and authority. This stems from a need to harmonize differences as opposed to pinpointing what is wrong and dysfunctional. However, the interpretation lies beyond the control of the street artist. Symbols are not constants, they are fluid and may change in meaning throughout time and space. I’d like to think that I’m voicing the opinion of many more people around the world – not just Egypt – because capitalism, consumerism and political systems, etc. are victimizing and deforming many cultures. It’s not ‘just an ‘Egyptian’ problem’—it’s something we’re all suffering from.”



Future plans?


Via Keizer's Facebook.
Via Keizer’s Facebook.


“I will continue to create thought-provoking art that moves,inspires,irritates and angers people. I sell my art to private clients that are mad enough to appreciate what I do,in the meantime Im preparing and looking forward to my upcoming exhibition at Mashrabeya Gallery Downtown on the 2nd of October 2016.”



How did Jan25 contribute to your ideas, and how did you contribute to it?



“As far as I am concerned the only revolution that occurred on Egyptian soil was the Jan 25th 2011 revolution. I hope my contribution made people wonder, question, smile, appreciate public art again and not feel alone in their thoughts and frustrations.”



WE SAID THIS: We’re profiling Selim ElLeithy next week, stay tuned!