Habib Hajallie: Black Pen Portraits

20 October – 10 December 2023

Habib Hajallie champions figures from ethnically diverse backgrounds that have been conspicuously omitted from traditional British portraiture, specialising in the use of a monochrome medium such as the black ballpoint pen to celebrate Blackness. Though he was born in Southeast London, his work is often informed by his Sierra Leonean and Lebanese heritage.’
Habib Hajallie is an elected member of The Royal Society of British Artists, the winner of The UK New Artist of The Year Award 2022 and an honouree on Forbes’ prestigious 30 Under 30 list 2023. Hajallie looks to champion figures from ethnically diverse backgrounds that have conspicuously been omitted from traditional British portraiture.
Though born in Southeast London, his drawings are often Informed by his Sierra Leonean and Lebanese heritage. By 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 & maps as canvases enables Hajallie to pragmatically re-contextualise ephemera, creating a cohesion between the concepts informing the work and the figures he depicts. As he empowers various figures; he simultaneously does so with the ground used, presenting them within new contexts. Placing himself or family members as the subjects of my portraits evokes a sense of immediacy, apropos to navigating the intersection of his western upbringing and familial West African culture.