Born in south-east London, Habib Hajallie’s Sierra Leonean and Lebanese heritage feeds into his practice. Through the exploration of ethnic identity, Hajallie gives voice to the empowerment of often marginalised ethnic groups. Hajallie investigates how disenfranchised people are often undermined by the mainstream media, reflecting an archaic hierarchy of status in alignment with colonial ideologies. The artist exposes how ethnocentrisms remain prevalent within modern society.
Using antique texts and maps as canvases is a constant feature of Hajallie’s practice. This process of bringing new value to often disregarded items creates a cohesion between aims of empowerment and the works’ visual appearance. As Hajallie depicts various figures, he also elevates the ground used as he places it within a new context. Often representing himself or family members within his portraits, Hajallie creates a sense immediacy through navigating the intersection of the artist’s western upbringing and his African culture.
Regularly drawing with pen enables Hajallie to call upon traditional draughtsmanship, influenced by sketches from the high Renaissance. Through an almost contradictory process of using modern mediums alongside a classical approach to mark making, the artist celebrates authentic drawing within the digital age.