Habib Hajallie

Location: South East


Habib Hajallie (b. 1995) is an elected member of The Royal Society of British Artists, he has been exhibiting his artwork since the age of 19. 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. 

Submitted work

Title: Questions of our Day

About the work

Using antique texts and maps as my canvases enables me to pragmatically re-contextualise ephemera, creating a cohesion between the concepts informing the work and the aesthetic. As I empower various figures; I simultaneously do so with the ground used, presenting them within new contexts. Delicate mark-making techniques with precise strokes of the everyday ballpoint pen allow me to celebrate traditional draftsmanship. Placing myself as the subject within my portraits evokes a sense of immediacy, apropos to navigating the intersection of my western upbringing and west African heritage.

I depict motifs that contradict revisionist narratives regarding West African Histories. I investigate how identity can be constructed by historical oppression, with semblances of antiquated ideologies at the root of nuanced prejudices that I’ve experienced. The portraits look to embolden individuals that may be labelled as the ‘other’. Challenging uncomfortable subjects may allow us to create long lasting positive changes for future generations.

“My artworks are of a deeply sentimental nature. I use motifs representative of personal experiences in order to embolden individuals that may have been labelled as the ‘other’ in any manifestation. 

Winning the award would strengthen the ethos of empowerment that I set forth in my practice and truly serve to further galvanise my ambitions of greater representation, as my works will be seen by a wider audience.”