Hassan Aliyu

working on the piece Escaping Hell Fire

Hassan Aliyu, FRSA is a British / Nigerian artist whose large-scale collaged paintings are centred on the African diaspora experience of racism and othering. His practice explores issues connected to socio-economic destabilisation and anti-blackness — legacies of enslavement and colonialism. Aliyu’s technique of working in recyclables is attributed to the embargo on the importation of art material during Nigeria’s Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in the 1980s, when he was an undergraduate student at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. During his formative years, Aliyu established a reputation as an emerging talent on the vibrant Lagos art scene. The colourful packaging of ‘essential commodities’, a term that encapsulated consumer products from conglomerates including Tate & Lyle, Nestlé, Cadbury’s, Lever Brothers, AG Leventis, and several colonial era European monopolies provided the alternative pigment as well as the theoretical and thematic context for his practice in the years to come. 

“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