Hassan Aliyu, FRSA, is a British-Nigerian artist whose expansive collaged paintings serve as a poignant critique of racism and the practice of ‘othering.’ His creative journey delves deep into the intricacies of socio-economic destabilization and the persistence of anti-black sentiment, echoing the enduring legacies of the historical injustices of enslavement and colonialism. Aliyu’s distinctive approach, rooted in the use of recyclable materials, traces its origins to the importation embargo on art supplies during Nigeria’s Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in the 1980s, a period that coincided with his undergraduate studies at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria. During his formative years, Aliyu carved out a niche as an emerging talent within the vibrant artistic landscape of Lagos. His inspiration drew from the vibrant packaging of ‘essential commodities,’ a term encompassing consumer goods from conglomerates like Tate & Lyle, Nestlé, Cadbury’s, Lever Brothers, AG Leventis, and various European monopolies from the colonial era. These materials not only served as an unconventional palette but also enriched the theoretical and thematic underpinnings of his artistic practice, a legacy that continues to evolve in the years ahead.
“The sources of Hassan’s work both historical and contemporary, are often metaphors for wider themes of race and change. The sheer dynamism of Hassan’s work is particularly clear. He binds energy and movement in paint producing vibrant images that fascinate and provoke. With references in technique to the dynamic images of the Italian Futurists, Hassan elucidates themes and issues with an absorbing lyricism and energy.” – Mark Bills, Curator, Russell Coates Museum and Art Gallery, Dorset, UK