Between art, photography, design and music, acclaimed artist-photographer Hassan Hajjaj never ceases to amaze. Once again gracing our pages, and our April cover, with his inspired pieces, we are continuously surprised at what this Moroccan-born and London-based creative continuously delivers in terms of content and design.
Renowned for being a man of many talents, Hajjaj explores his upbringing between London and Morocco effortlessly. We are captivated by his latest artistic-meets-cultural communiqué through the series “Kesh Angels” that highlights the biker culture of the women of Marrakesh, Morocco. Stemming from a tired perception of a country often frequented for glamorous photo-shoots by international glossy magazines, he wished to shed an authentic light on the women that embody the spirit of the magical city—they are not overwhelmed by a macho-driven society, they are strong and independent. From cultural symbols to personal touches that perfect his frames, this ongoing series celebrates the streets of Marrakesh through vibrant colors, joyful spirits and a visual rhythm that entices the viewer to befriend the “Kesh Angels.”
Upon returning to London from his US debut in New York, Hassan looks to the future in diversifying his artistic mediums. His US interlude included solo shows in New York and Los Angeles, where his video work My Rock Stars Experimental, Volume I is on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art until July of this year.
Between his latest book signing event, By Hassan Hajjaj: Photography, Fashion, Film, Design by Rose Issa Projects and finalizing edits on his latest documentary film, we meet with the artist to learn more about the Kesh Angels.
Can you tell us more about the Kesh Angels’ series?
With regards to the Kesh Angels title, I played with words from ‘Hell’s Angels’, where ‘kesh’ is short for Marrakesh given that all of the women involved in the series are from Marrakesh. As Hell’s Angels also happens to be a brand name, I thought it fit perfectly with this body of work.
I’ve been shooting this story since the late 90s to highlight a phenomenon that already existed; I just added my flavor to the concept.
Is the series of photographs complete, or is it ongoing?
It is still going on, depending on how much time I spend in Marrakesh.
Your work, regardless of subject matter, regularly addresses a Middle Eastern obsession with designer labels and brand association.
Can you elaborate on why you intentionally include this in your photographs?
I don’t think I always do that. For instance, with the Rock Stars series, you see people from different parts of the world. Perhaps in this series, and other similar ones, I did incorporate brand names as this is a facet of life that I grew up with and it’s a great way to communicate with viewers.
How did you build the frames of each image in the Kesh Angels’ series?
I tried to do this with lots of products that I can readily get, and use products that fit with the theme of my work and ideas. For instance, I used car paint as Kesh Angels is essentially a story about bikes, or Aicha tomato cans as Aicha was my mom’s name (May she rest in peace). All in all, I looked to create a frame that resembled a mosaic pattern, a characteristic that is truly Moroccan.
Do you have a favorite portrait out of the series? If so, which one is it and why?
Gang of Marrakesh is a favorite as this image is about swagger, fashion, textile, strength, freedom and normal people at the same time.
Where can we find the ‘Kesh Angels’ series?
Taymour Grahne gallery in New York and Rose Issa Gallery in London.
Are you still based between London and Marrakesh? If so, why do you choose this lifestyle?
Yes I still am, because they are both home and they both made what I am today in terms of my personality, career and art.
What else are you working on these days?
I’m currently in the middle of editing my 1st documentary about Karima, the henna girl, who has been present in my work throughout the last 15 years.
What’s next for Hassan Hajjaj?
To simply keep going.
For more information about Hassan Hajjaj, visit hassanhajjaj.blogspot.com , or find him on Facebook Hassan Hajjaj. Images courtesy of Hassan Hajjaj. Photographs of Hassan courtesy of Zahed Sultan and Meriem Houiguig.
Artwork by Hassan Hajjaj courtesy of Rose Issa Projects and Taymour Grahne Gallery.