Somerset House is currently hosting Hassan Hajjaj: La Caravane, a homecoming exhibition of the British-Moroccan artist, showcasing his vibrant fusion of contemporary cultures through new and celebrated works.
The exhibition is the first UK solo show of his work in seven years, celebrating his multi-layered works which fuse traditional and contemporary North African culture with familiar Western imagery and iconography.
Born and raised in Larache, Morroco, Hassan Hajjaj moved to London aged twelve and his artistic practice sees him spend much of his life travelling between these two countries and cultures. His artworks reflect his neo-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, sculptures, music, design and handcrafted objects.
Infused with a bold palette, the materials Hajjaj uses include patterned textiles, furniture, clothes and props often created by the artist to inform 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.
He is perhaps best known for his colourful photographic portraits, including the Kesh Angels series, from which many new works feature in the exhibition.
Blending the glossy aesthetic of a fashion shoot with Moroccan tradition and street culture, these witty and poignant images, although outwardly light-hearted, challenge Western perceptions of the hijab and female disempowerment.
Another new body of work in the exhibition is My Rock Stars: Volume 2, a nine screen installation of distinctively dressed musicians. Each musician occupies an individual screen and takes it in turns to play their instrument, while the other performers turn to watch. The clothes and brightly patterned backdrops in each screen have been carefully selected by Hajjaj to highlight each player and their individual performance.
Visitors can view the performances from Hajjaj’s signature Le Salon installation, which takes the form of a customised sofa, whilst the music travels throughout the whole exhibition.
On 6 January a free special event will take place to celebrate the final weekend of the exhibition and Somerset House’s season of African Art, including live music and a family workshop inspired by elements of Hajjaj’s work.
View the full set of pics here
Hassan Hajjaj – La Caravane