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Allegory of Self Censorship Drawing

Habib Hajallie

United Kingdom

Drawing, Ballpoint Pen on Paper

Size: 21.7 W x 31.5 H x 0.1 D in

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About The Artwork

This ballpoint pen self-portrait was drawn during the summer of 2019 in New Jersey, USA whilst I was an artist in residence at Guttenberg Arts. This work was exhibited at The 303rd Annual Royal Society of British Artists Exhibition at The Mall Galleries, February 2020. The collaged texts from the 1940s book, Questions of Our Day acts as a means of contextualising the thought process behind the work. Within modern society I believe that social media has strongly influenced a generation to be overly cautious of self-expression; as our hyper curated profiles serve to present a version of one’s self that fits the status quo. Within this uber politically correct paradigm, individuals seem to self-censor opinions or presentations of their ‘online selves’ as to not deviate from on trend ideologies. This work depicts a figure with censored genitals, as to ironically not offend the viewer. The body language represents a duality of vulnerability as the viewer almost appears to be intruding in the scene; as well as that of bold defiance in a world obsessed with exterior gratification & validation.

Details & Dimensions

Drawing:Ballpoint Pen on Paper

Original:One-of-a-kind Artwork

Size:21.7 W x 31.5 H x 0.1 D in

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My practice looks 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. Informed by my Sierra Leonean and Lebanese heritage, I am conscious of representing figures that have historically been conspicuously omitted from traditional British portraiture. I call upon anecdotal references to portray scenes that are occasionally quasi surrealist representations; confronting lingering ethnocentrisms that are still embedded within modern western society. 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. At the core of my practice, I depict motifs that contradict largely accepted revisionist narratives apropos to West African Histories. The portraits investigate 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. In March 2022 I was elected as a member of The Royal Society of British Artists.

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