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Habib Hajallie (b.1995) is an elected member of The Royal Society of British Artists. He looks to empower often marginalised minorities through the exploration of identity within his ballpoint pen portraiture. Confronting socio-political issues within his drawings acts as a catalyst for a discourse regarding the perception of various demographics as being of lesser humanistic value. Specifically, with the disenfranchised often being undermined by mainstream media; somewhat paradoxically reflecting an archaic hierarchy of status, similar to colonial ideologies.
Though born in Southeast London, Hajallie's works are Informed by his Sierra Leonean and Lebanese heritage. He is conscious of representing figures that have historically been conspicuously omitted from traditional British portraiture. Calling upon anecdotal references to portray scenes that are occasionally quasi-surrealist representations, the drawings look to confront lingering ethnocentrisms that are still embedded within modern western society.
Using antique texts and maps as the canvases for my works enables me to pragmatically re-contextualise ephemera, creating a cohesion between the concepts informing the work and the aesthetic output. As I empower various figures; I simultaneously do so with the ground used, presenting them within new contexts. Placing myself or family members as the subjects of my portraits evokes a sense of immediacy, apropos to navigating the intersection of my western upbringing and familial west African culture.
I employ delicate mark making techniques with precise strokes of the everyday ballpoint pen. This process is influenced by sketches from the high renaissance.Through an almost contradictory process of using this relatively modern art medium with a classical approach to mark making: I look to celebrate authentic drawing within the digital age.
At the core of my practice, I depict motifs that contradict largely accepted revisionist narratives apropos to West African Histories. My work investigates how identity can be constructed by historical oppression, with semblances of antiquated ideologies at the root of nuanced prejudices that I have personally experienced. Ultimately, my work looks to embolden individuals that feel as though they have been labelled as the ‘other’ in any manifestation.
Winner of The UK New Artist of The Year Award 2022