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Jaffar Aly

Through ‘Matter Out of Place’ Jaffar Aly exposes and shares with us his personal experience as a diaspora living in London.


Born in Zanzibar, Aly left the island at a very young age and grew up here in London. In the painting we see a white face, blood coming out of their mouth as if they just got out of a fight, black dots on the top of his head can make one think of birds you see in cartoons when the character is stunned.


We observe two distinctive styles in the making of this piece: the dust sheet being painted on and stretched, and the lower part hanging to the ground. The ‘Matter’ is of identity, and it is ‘out of place’ as the dust sheet rolls on the floor. The artwork is a mirror to Jaffar Aly, picturing his struggles through the making of his own self. Raised Muslim in a Black household, Aly had to forge his own identity while growing up in the UK, which sometimes merges, and sometimes also splits, which can be observed in the different rendering of the eyes.


The white character, gasping for the dizziness to go down, represents the ghost of past versions which the artist once has been.

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Matter Our of Place, Oil Paint, Oil bar, Acrylic Paint, Spray Paint, stretched dust sheet, 2023


Jaffar Aly (b.1998, Zanzibar) is a visual artist and anthropologist living and working in London, UK.


Aly's work mixes visual arts with his academic background and research in anthropology and Black British Studies to produce striking and assertive pieces. Through his energetic and colourful brushstroke Jaffar Aly explores the concepts of race, gender, class and the experience of diasporas in London.


Aly's practice extends from painting, photography, and writing, tackling contemporary socio-political issues. In his abstract storytelling, the artist aims to educate and depict unheard stories. His caricature-like portraits focus on the human experience, away from classical canon representations and anchored outside of Eurocentric values. By giving a voice to diaspora in London, Aly's work decolonises and decentralises what is known as common knowledge and rather creates 'parallel forms of knowledge'.


Jaffar Aly studied at Goldsmiths University in London and holds a BA in Anthropology and MA in Arts and Politics. His most recent show was THIS IS A GROUP SHOW at Liquid Gold Studios (London). Jaffar Aly had numerous exhibitions around London and England among them is a group show at the Black Cultural Archive (2022-23); the annual exhibition of The Discerning Eye charity at Mall Galleries (2022); the emerging art prize exhibition at Saatchi Gallery (2022).

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