Nader is a Cairo based artist who creates striking images of both local and long distance friends. He takes references from both classic and street arts and blends them to create a unique style that is all his own.

You call out both Cairo and New York in your Instagram account. Can you tell us how these two cities fit into your life?

I was born and raised in Cairo. This city really inspires me on so many levels. It helps me to continue creating more works. Coming from a middle-class family and religious background, it was a bit hard for me at first to express exactly who I am or what I’m thinking. There are a multitude of red lines in any close-knit society like Cairo that you cannot cross.  I’ve always found the loopholes that enable me to bypass these lines without getting involved in any clashes, which is good. To see these contradictions in front of my eyes raises a lot of questions that I then put into my work.

Cairo can be a very uncomfortable city to work in as a gay artist, but I don’t want to escape this discomfort. I want to push myself into it even more. This is exactly what fuels me to produce more works and that’s why Cairo is a big part of what I am doing. As for New York, It is my dream to go to very soon!

What medium do you use to create your artwork?

Actually, I used to use more than one medium while I’m creating my works. It always depends on what I’m going to draw next. Sometimes I feel like I want to draw this portrait or figure in ink. Then when I am finishing it, I feel more like I want to add colours to it. Whatever kind of colours I want to add, whether it is acrylic, coloured pencils or even oil, that decision comes later on in the process. Drawing in ink was and still is my favourite medium in the creating process.

Do you have formal training or are you self-taught?

As a matter of fact I’m a fine art student at the moment majoring in painting, but I reached this level in drawing by myself. Of course I learnt very much in my college. There we do a new project every week but I was practicing a lot by myself doing many quick sketches of figures and portraits. People are my favourite subjects to draw. I’m still learning every day and am surprised by what I can do with this craft. 

Where and how do you connect with the models for this project?

They are my friends. Most of them live in Cairo and the others in Berlin and New York. I connected with them online, or we arrange a time for them come to my studio. We talk and take photos to use as my references. It’s quite cool because in the shooting day I can see the big pictures that I want to create on paper. 

What messages do you wish to send to viewers with these portraits?

Each portrait was made in a different time. Every one has its own story. Let’s say I’ve always talked about human interaction, love and intimacy with my models because it’s important not to forget about these feelings. I try to manifest this sort of feeling, especially in the portraits that I draw.

Can you expand on the quote in the red portrait – “Our Spring was wonderful but Summer’s over … butts!, butts!, butts!

Oh, this portrait was always my favourite one, and the quote was from the “Paris, je t’aime” film. It touches me for damn sure. I was just trying to move on at that time from a long-term relationship that I was in. The “butts” part is something that stuck in my head for a long time and soon I will start to illustrate a new series just consisting of male hairy butts! 

 

Are any of these selfies?

Yes, there are a few. I’m amazed every time I draw myself because they look like me but always in a very different way.

Do you have any exhibitions planned for 2020?

There’s an exhibition that’s planned for summer and I’m working on a big scale project right now that’s supposed to be finished in May. (gt)

Keep up with Nader on his Instagram at: @____nader_____