We are delighted to have Hassan Hajjij on board with Photography on a Postcard. Moroccan born Hassan Hajjij is a contemporary artist who lives and works between London, UK and Marrakesh, Morocco. He is known as the “Andy Warhol of Marrakesh” due to his colourful style that reappropriates and reclaims symbols of culture to create his own commentary and aesthetic.
Born and raised in Larache, Hajjaj moved to the UK aged twelve, but has spent much of his life travelling between the two countries and cultures. His artworks reflect his nomadic lifestyle and the relationships he has formed with a variety of characters along the way, from musicians to artists and athletes to street performers. These individuals inspire Hajjaj’s diverse artworks from photographic portraits to video installations, sculpture, music, design and handcrafted objects.
Infused with a bold palette, the materials Hajjaj uses include patterned textiles, furniture, clothes and props often made by the artist to influence our understanding of the person in the image. All of these elements, including the frames made out of everyday items in which his images sit, are chosen deliberately to highlight these individuals’ identities.
His focus points was to depict a different side of his home country than he believed the west perceived it. “Camels and mint tea; that’s all anyone used of to think of when I said Morocco”, he scoffs. His work in photography, design, film, fashion, and the club scene means that, like Warhol did, Hajjaj borrows from his rich and ever-evolving surroundings. “But”, he explains, “anyone can take a pretty picture, my work is always about the story and the people”.
His most well-known series, “Kesh Angels”, showed vibrant and enigmatic portraits of young women wearing veils and djellabah, with added Puma and Gucci branding, sitting astride motorcycles. The mixture of religious iconography, consumerism, and in-your-face branding was striking – and they were, delightfully, also turned into Barbie dolls. In the eyes of Hajjaj, he is just “showing the world as I know it” and photographing people that “are either friends with or I want to party with”. But, for many others, he is celebrated as an artist that subverts preconceived notions of the Arab world and provides a visual counter-narrative to the relationship between the east and west through his re-contextualisation of iconic imagery. Either way, his work is fascinating and we decided to chat to the self-taught artist himself. Hajjaj's first feature-length film, Karima: A Day in the Life of a Henna Girl, premiered at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in May 2015. The film takes viewers into the world of one Hajjaj’s, Kesh Angels, depicting the henna girls of Marrakesh.
Hajjaj was the winner of the 2011 Sovereign Middle East and African Art Prize and was shortlisted for Victoria & Albert Museum's Jameel Prize in 2009. In 2013, Rose Issa Projects published a monograph of the artist exploring his upbringing in Morocco and London, his experiences in fashion and interior design, and his adventures in the music industry influence the vibrant colours, joyful spirit, and visual rhythm of his highly sought-after images.
The photographs will be on display at theprintspace, Shoreditch from 12th – 24th October, with a Private View taking place at 7:30pm on 12th October.