THE WORLD OF JAFFAR ALY
In conversation with Jaffar Aly about his inspirations, anthropology and collaboration.
Operating out of hastily configured forms and energetic swathes of generously layered paint, Lewisham based artist Jaffar Aly creates eerily configured caricatures that reflect his diasporic experience of growing up in the UK. A healthy combination of anthropological thinking and artistic endeavour results in a selection of paintings that hold both a sensitive consideration of the human experience and an immediacy surrounding our current socio-political landscape. With his upcoming solo show Black Angst at No Format Gallery unfortunately being cancelled due to lockdown restrictions, we thought this the perfect time to share our interview with Jaffar that delves into where he finds inspiration in everyday scenarios and how he created his online platform Spaghetti.
What inspires you to create?
JAFFAR: A lot of the time it’s the energy produced by the people you surround yourself with. Fam, id say most of my peopledem are artists in their own rights. Whether it be the poet to the musician to the writers and photographer or event manager, business owner, anything. Artist in their own right. We all are producing something. So yeah, the peopledem around me inspire me forsure. But on another note though, I feel like a lot of people from my positionality will agree with this, but another driving factor to the hustle is our parents or carer, right? Tryna make them proud, like no I’m not a doctor but imma still make you proud you get me.
Tell us about your fascination with anthropology, where does it stem from?
JAFFAR: Ah yes, well it stemmed from the beautiful process of clearing. Anthropology was the only course that accepted me at my uni, but I swear it was the degree I should have been looking for rather than Medicine or Law. But the fascination with the disciple mainly stems from the anti-colonial thought it has generated in me and my peers. If I did not study anthropology, I’d probably be in the dark about a lot of the decolonial work a lot of my now favour scholars have produced. And this struggle of decolonization was only a thing for me because of anthropology and its weird because anthropology was birthed from colonial endeavours, it is a product of colonialism, and for the longest time, I guess till this day, still reproduces such thought. But there’s the other side of the discipline where the aim is to decolonize the discipline and decolonize its effects on greater society.
Fam, I recommend everyone study anthropology, it really challenges your positionality and your relation to grander power dynamics that shape our lived and embodied experience.
What is your process for naming your paintings?
JAFFAR: It’s all dependent on what I’ve seen, hear or whatever memory the piece evokes you get me. I called one of my paintings ‘Views from the Wake’ because I was reading Christina Sharpe (2016) In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Or ‘Timothy Didn’t Go to School’ because I remembered how lit my working-class Black childhood was when I used to watch Timothy goes to school on Tiny Pop. All dependent on whether the circumstance deems it noticeable.
Why have you created 'Spagetti'?
JAFFAR: Spaghetti is a platform. It’s a platform with a main intention to be a space for the people who want to present their work and let it be known to the world. Like ‘Spaghetti’ was just a saying my boy Chris used to say, like it was a saying but also a state of mind to have. “Spaghetti” if I had to translate it meant, “fuck it, you get what you get”. Now whether people like what you have created, that calm. Most times people love what you create, even though you might hate your work, whether it be a essay to a painting or your music, others might love it! It’s not a perfect world so why you trying to produce something perfect for such a world? That intellectual suicide!
So ‘Spaghetti’ became an idea, it evolved from a word to the ‘Spaghetti Articles’ where people would submit their spaghetti to me and I’d curate a mini publication for people to see their work in something you get me. Then it developed into ‘Spaghetti Live Action’, same foundation but now a full-on event where people come to show case their work. Ranging from poetry to music and just talks. Fam, we all have spaghetti, and some people are gonna love your recipe and some won’t. But first you gotta put your work out there so you can keep those who love your shit close, they’re the ones who are gonna support you till the end.
To find more on Jaffar Aly check out his instagram @thatspaghettibrand
and website https://mycatsdopressupseverymorning.com