Meet Jaffar Aly, a contemporary artist from the UK whose work is influenced by his studies in Anthropology. Here he answers some of our questions about his inspirations, how he seeks out opportunities and his plans for the near future!
How has the study of anthropology influenced your work as an artist and how did you transition from one to the other?
Doing anthropology was just a coincidence. I went through clearing innit and coming from a background like mine higher education is a must. I wasn’t gonna be a doctor, but I can most definitely get a doctorate right. But lowkey I do believe that I had to study anthropology to somewhat challenge my perspectives on topical issues like race, gender, class, gentrification, multiculturalism, just to name a few. They all feed into my practice in art which has become multimodal in a way. My hands in different avenues all working towards affecting political aesthetic schemas.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
To be honest, the first barrage of inspiration comes from the people around me. From the collective I’m in called anti.net which consists of me, VICE, Wave Noir, TM JOJO, Tommi Off-licence and Skrrgeon. To family and my muse Katherine Duke. Inspiration for me comes from my community, as they keep the drive in me going, coz when we reach a level we define as comfortable, we don’t want to be around the dinner table alone.
How do you seek out opportunities?
Fam, funny enough, the old school method of knocking on your door and seeing what a conversation could bring… You’d be really surprised at the results. Sometimes you got to show face and that charisma you have, coz we all have it. Smile and negotiate dates, availability and show them your drive. I’m from a South East London working-class family, so the hunger is real over here. So, when I’m knocking on your exhibition doors, you listen. Plus, it’s harder to say no to someone when they’re right in your face.
Tell us about your upcoming solo exhibition titled ‘Black Angst’. What should the viewer expect?
Black Angst is just a series of artwork where I’ve simply expressed my emotion on whatever surface available. Emotions of angst, stress, traumas of being Black. But Black Angst the project transcends the images. I want it to be about Black artists expressing themselves through whatever medium they’d like. Mine is painting, someone else’s might be music or poetry you know. This solo exhibition is just the starting point, kicking of a long-term project where I can gather Black artists to express that angst you know.
We live in an increasingly globalised world. This has profound impact on the work and lives of communities everywhere. As an artist, what is the importance of community in your work?
First, you got to find the right people to surround yourself and dub that word community over yourselves. Coz you can have bare friends and know many people but are they pushing you and are they motivating you. Because I’ve curated a beautiful crew of artists, professionals, whatever and I look up to each and every one of them. They make me want to make art and continue. So, I’d say community whether online or physical is important, not just for an artist, but for the soul to feel happy and full.
What are your plans for the near future?
The plan is to get into as many places and just keep it consistent. By the end of this year, I’d love my portfolio to be filled with exhibitions and new artworks. I currently have 3-4 exhibitions these upcoming months. Do attend and come through, it’d be lovely to connect and network with people after this lockdown. Let’s talk over a cold brew at these shows, if not hit me up and come down to the studio!