The Savannah College of Art and Design presents the 1444 by Hassan Hajjaj at SCAD Museum of Art.
Like the amalgamation of influences that make up both his home country of Morocco and the United Kingdom where he currently resides, Hassan Hajjaj’s photographs present a vast array of stylistic references. Hajjaj’s models don bright colors and are set in environments of clashing patterns, in a joyful celebration of multiculturalism. The portraits are often shot on playful makeshift backdrops positioned outside of his London store, Larache Shop, creating maximalist mises en scéne. Each work is set in a custom frame with niches that contain various commercial goods like tea boxes or cans of harissa, a pop nod to the various brands and products that are intrinsically tied to cultural identity.
Hajjaj’s exhibition 1444 presents work from two series, My Rockstars and Vogue: The Arab Issue alongside select garments that appear in these photographs. In My Rockstars, he photographs friends, artists, and performers around the world — from British painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye to American rap superstar Cardi B — in patterned sets consisting of textiles typical of North Africa. In Vogue: The Arab Issue, models wear garments, like caftans, babouches, and hijabs, sourced from local markets where they are shot. These images celebrate Islamic culture while challenging Western stereotypes and beauty biases.
About the artist
Hassan Hajjaj (b. 1961, Larache, Morocco) creates vibrant, boldly patterned portraits of friends, colleagues, celebrities, and members of his community that express evolving notions of self and society in today’s globalized, connected world. The artist captures his subject’s pictures in studios set up on the street, which further integrates this international blend of music, fashion, and popular culture.
Inspired by street style and hip hop, Hajjaj draws influence from African masters of studio photography: Sanlé Sory (b. 1943; Burkinabe), Samuel Fosso (b. 1962; Cameroonian), and Malick Sidibé (1936-2016; Malian). Hassan Hajjaj absorbed the idea of studio portraiture as a malleable vehicle for identity definition as he reshuffles cultural signifiers to portray a world where individuals draw from diverse international sources to define who they are. The artist came of age in London in the 1980’s and 1990’s, and the artist’s own contributions to nightlife and street style are reflected in the cultural mission of his photographs. In his own words, “In the 80’s you have to remember that London was just starting to blend. We all came from different backgrounds. We had to create something to find our space.” Hajjaj does just this in his images, blending, juxtaposing and mirroring traditional Moroccan patterns with contemporary signifiers of global style and consumption.
Hajjaj has presented his work in group and solo exhibitions internationally. Select solo exhibitions include Barakat Contemporary, Seoul (2020), Fotografiska, Stockholm (2020), Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi (2019), Somerset House, London (2017), British Museum, London (2016), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2013). His work resides in collections like the Brooklyn Museum, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, and others.
1444 is organized by Ben Tollefson, SCAD Museum of Art curator, and is presented as part of deFINE ART 2023.
Hassan Hajjaj: 1444
Jusqu’au 3 juillet 2023
SCAD Museum of Art
601 Turner Blvd.