By Fatma Ibrahim and Thoraia Abou Bakr
Graffiti and street art have always played an integral part in social demonstrations. With the recent rise in demonstrations, many protesters carry spray cans in order to paint slogans, and express their dissent and demands on any surface they can find. Sad Panda is a character that has recently become iconic in Egyptian street art.
The common themes of street art include the end of a regime, a women’s revolution, as well as the need for the people’s voices to be heard. Sad Panda, however, seems to be the best character to express the sense of loss and mourning for those who lost their lives during previous demonstrations, and for those who gave up and stopped fighting. Amidst the sense of rebellion, excitement and pride which many people feel as they exercise their right of free expression, there is an undeniable melancholy to the experience.
The name of the character was inspired by the childhood experiences of the artist who created him, who prefers to remain anonymous. “It is not an idea; it is just my alter ego. They named me ‘the panda’ when I was young because I looked like one,” he said.
Sadness dominates Sad Panda’s life, and it is expressed in drawn features of the character; its figure is slumped, its face grimacing, and its demeanour implies the misery of it all. “I ruin walls, I am too sad to do anything for fun,” the artist added.
Sad Panda’s creator explains his creative journey, saying: “I started to draw on walls back in late 2008, and it is not graffiti, its street art. For me, I just like the act of vandalism and you tell me any reasons not to be sad then we can talk.” He added, “happiness is an illusion…just like love, in my opinion.”
The artist’s only channel of communication with fans is through his Facebook profile, where he sometimes receives requests for pieces in certain areas. The artist has also done some collaborative work. “I did a few pieces with another street artist known as ‘The Mozza,’ and soon I’ll be hitting the streets with something new just to spread more sadness.”
“I would like to add that street art is a form of vandalism, it is not cute or cool, it is sad and illegal” he said, adding: “remember sadness; it’s never too far from you.”