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 at the SCAD Museum of Art, 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.
Press release from SCAD Museum of Art