Hassan Hajjaj – Simo Lagnawi & Boubacar Kafando, 2010, Metallic lambda print on dibond with wood & found objects frame

The Gallery at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar is pleased to present ‘My Rock Stars: Volume 1’, by acclaimed London-based Moroccan artist/photographer Hassan Hajjaj. The exhibition is scheduled from 4 September to 24 October 2013 with an opening reception on Wednesday 4 September 2013 at 6 pm at the Gallery at VCUQatar. 

The exhibition and speaker curator at VCUQatar, Caitlin Doherty, said:

Hassan Hajjaj has brought the most dynamic life, energy and excitement to VCUQatar. And it’s an infectious energy – his work has the ability to affect you, and I have yet to see someone leave the gallery without smiling.’

‘My Rock Stars: Volume 1’ pays homage to traditional African portraiture, while celebrating present-day pop stars, unsung artists and personal inspirations in Hajjaj’s life. Created using a pop up studio erected on the streets of Morocco, London, Paris and Kuwait, the series is simultaneously an haute-couture street experiment and a revival of African photography from the 1960s and 70s. Hajjaj’s subjects range from musicians, fashion designers, dancers to singers, capoeira masters, and boxers – all of whom are immortalised in a fleeting moment in time, sealing their muse-like qualities forever.

Much like Hajjaj’s personal exploration, the photographic series, is an on-going examination of belonging in an increasingly globalized society where boundaries of cultural identity – most notably African, Arabic and Western – are constantly being pushed. Using traditional mats and fabrics as well as found objects that he sources in local markets of his hometown Marrakech, Hajjaj bridges the gap between past and present and various cultures, creating pieces that seamlessly merge folkloric elements into Western contemporary art. This exhibition also features a film on the Rockstar Series which has been provided courtesy of Rose Issa Projects, London.

Born in Larache, Morocco in 1961, Hajjaj arrived in London in his teens and grew up amid the emerging club culture in the UK. Known as the ‘Andy Warhol of Marrakech’, Hajjaj is very much a child of the pop art generation. His work encompass many techniques and fields, from designing and producing furniture including lamps, stools, poufs made from recycled North African objects such as upturned Coca-Cola crates as stools, road signs turned into tables tops as well as custom made clothes and photography.

Hassan Hajjaj – Luzmira Zerpa, 2012, Metallic lambda print on dibond with wood & found objects frame

Hajjaj is best known for designing the ‘Andy Wahloo’ bar-restaurant in Paris in 2003, for which he decked out the entire establishment in his trademark style of recycled North Africa objects. ‘Andy Wahloo’ acknowledges one of his favorite artists, Andy Warhol, but also at the same time refers to a Parisian slang term meaning ‘I have nothing’ adopted by Hajjaj as a way of describing his work. Hajjaj’s designed spaces also include The Riad Yima guest house, an old funduq in Marrakesh in which five bedrooms, salon and terraces have been festooned in his furniture design and products. Hajjaj’s work has been exhibited internationally in many high profile exhibitions including London, Paris and Morocco, notably Fashion in Motion, Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Africa Remix, Hayward Gallery, London and Contemporary African Visual Arts, British Museum, London all in 2005. Most recently Hajjaj was a featured artist at Rencontres de Bamako 9, African Photography Biennial, Bamako, Mali, 2009. Also in 2009, Hajjaj participated with large installations at Le Salon, Jameel Prize, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK and Icons Reloaded, Elysee Arts Gallery, Liege, Belgium. The artist lives and works between London, England and Marrakech, Morocco.

‘My Rock Stars: Volume 1’ runs at the Gallery at VCUQatar from 4 September to 24 October 2013, with an opening reception on 4 September at 6 pm. The event is open to the public.

For more information, visit VCUQatar’s website or email VCUQatar Exhibitions and Speaker Curator Caitlin Doherty at [email protected].