about me

Informed by my Sierra Leonean and Lebanese heritage, I aim to empower often marginalised minorities through the exploration of identity within portraiture. Confronting socio-political issues within my drawings can act 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. 


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 call upon anecdotal references to portray scenes that are on occasion hyperbolic. Such quasi surrealist representations confront lingering ethnocentrisms that are still embedded within modern society in a western context.


I employ delicate mark making techniques with precise strokes of the everyday ballpoint pen. This process is influenced by sketches from the high renaissance. I meticulously build layers of tonality leading to an element of photorealism. 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.


Depicting motifs contrary to largely accepted revisionist narratives apropos to West African histories is at the core of my practice. The portraits investigate the absurdity of 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. 

Habib Hajallie with self portrait.jpeg
WIP JOCELYN BARROW photocred-Gary Brewer.jpg


July 2021, Young Artist Award - winner - Society of Graphic Fine Art

May 2021, The Anthony J Lester Art Critic Award - Highly Commended - Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour

April 2021, The De Laszlo Foundation Prize - Highly Commended - Royal Society of British Artists

December 2020, NG Art Residency Prize - winner - Wells Art Contemporary

February 2020, National Lottery: Project Grants – Grant Winner– Arts Council

February 2020, Signature Art Prize: Drawing & Printmaking – Winner – Degree Art

January 2020, Embracing Our Differences Exhibit 2020 – Best in Show – Embracing Our Differences Org

November 2019, Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary 2019 – Runner up – Parker Harris

October 2019, Draw ‘19 – Under 30s Prize Winner- The Society of Graphic Fine Art

July 2019, Artists Collecting Society Studio Prize 2019 – finalist – Artist’s Collecting Society

January 2019, Developing Your Creative Practice Grant – Grant winner – Arts Council England

March 2018, Bloomberg New Contemporaries – class of 2018 – New Contemporaries

May 2016, Jorge Aguilar-Agon Student Artist Award – winner - Fine Art Trade Guild

Habib Hajallie's CV