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HASSAN HAJJAJ: The Warhol of Marrakesh

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Hassan Hajjaj - Somerset HouseRider, photograph by © Hassan Hajjaj, courtesy of the artist and Vigo Gallery

If you're craving colour then this month's creative crush won't disappoint. Inspired by Britain, Morocco, colour and contemporary fashion - Hassan Hajjaj is known as the 'Andy Warhol of Marrakesh'.

“The colour really comes from Morocco; in England, we live in black-and-white because of the weather,” says Hajjaj, “That moment of being in colour is really creating a little bit of happiness and bringing life and identity back."

British-Moroccan Hajjaj blends the glossy feel of fashion shoots with Moroccan tradition and street culture to make witty and poignant installations and images that explore our relationship with fashion and material objects. His work often plays with Western perceptions of the hijab and female disempowerment.

We love his use of clashing colours and punchy prints to make his photographic portraits and installations a brilliantly bonkers feast for the eyes.

Kesh Angels, photograph by © Hassan Hajjaj, courtesy of the artist and Vigo Gallery

Kesh Angels, photograph by © Hassan Hajjaj, courtesy of the artist and Vigo Gallery

We went to Hajjaj's homecoming exhibition at Somerset House in October 2016, La Caravane. The exhibition showcased a diverse body of his work, part retrospective and part new, from photographic portraits like the Kesh Angels series above, to video installations, sculpture, music, design and handcrafted objects. Each piece exploring how clothing, labels, possessions and traditions can inform how we interpret other people and their identity. 

All brightly coloured and crazily textured, the materials Hajjaj used included patterned textiles, furniture, clothes and everyday props that were juxtaposed to make a point. Each portrait was contained within a handmade frame that was made out of everyday items that reinforced the identity of the person photographed. 

The Louis Vuitton-topped oil drum below was our favourite piece of the day, along with the upcycled plastic crates made into the coolest looking seating area under the luxe chandelier-adorned Terrace Rooms of Somerset House. Bit of interior inspiration right there.

Hassan Hajjaj at Somerset House October 2016

Hassan Hajjaj: La Caravane, Somerset House, Photographed by Postcards Home

Hassan Hajjaj at Somerset House October 2016

Hassan Hajjaj: La Caravane, Somerset House, Photographed by Postcards Home

“I’m just tapping into how all the traditions and cultures have power. Every country and culture has a style, has a tradition. Within the traditional clothing, there’s a style, there’s a couture. For example, with a Nigerian man or woman with their outfit, they would normally buy the material for the outfit, take it to someone who sows, they will measure them and they will make the piece for them. So it becomes more couture than going and buying a pair of Levis or a top from Gap,” he says.

Read more about the exhibition here.


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