From the Fez to the camel, Hassan Hajjaj takes on the European stereotypes of the North African world and turns them into a visual celebration. His large canvasses sit comfortably in the post modern European art world. Restaurateur Mourad Mazouz, Fashion entrepreneur Joseph, Blur (who incidentally used Hassan's graphics for their official website) singer Damon Albarn and the Moroccan Consulate in London have all acquired some of Hassan's pieces.
Hajjaj discovered that nobody had documented the street level graphic art of his native land. It set him off on a mission to elevate and educate people to the funky visual art of the souk with a twist. Having arrived in London from Larache in Morocco in his teens, he grew up amid the emerging club culture of London, UK, absorbing the music and styles of the reggae, hip hop and world music. Hajjaj's visual sensibilities led him to enter the world of art and fashion. After running clubs and managing up and coming bands, he decided in 1984 to forge a solid relationship with the New York scene and subsequently the same year launched his own clothing and accessories label RAP.
A restless spirit, Hassan has chosen his imagery intuitively and ingeniously. The concepts he employs are seductively witty and playful while having a serious edge. Clearly a child of the pop art generation - his working methods encompass so many techniques and fields - he engages personally and intensively in the time consuming process of designing and producing furniture (tables, lamps, stools, poufs), clothes (from customised patrol attendant overalls to babouches, from funky-ed djellabahs to hats), photography (the youth of the medina a never ending source of inspiration, as well as photo-reportages commissioned by several magazines), interior design incidentally dubbed 'Marrakithch' by the French press (Mourad Mazouz - of the Sketch fame - Parisian bar aptly named 'Andy Wahloo') and, last but not least, painting and printed canvas (always in a limited numbered edition). The concept remains the same, only the medium changes. All is expertly crafted and dishes out plenty of colourful humour.
For social systems at The Exchange, Hajjaj has produced a place where visitors can relax and chat. It might also be seen as a symbolic space, where life and art are momentarily integrated. Hajjaj brings together re-cycled North African objects with items and imagery readily found in and around Cornwall. The riot of colour, juxtaposition of patterns, and co-existence of old and new, Cornish and Moroccan creates a playful, feel-good environment. Here visitors can sit, read, relax, listen and talk.
Thanks to: Lillie Brothers, Truro Fabrics, B&Q Penzance, Elizabeth Harris, Becky Haughton.
Supported by: Henry Moore Foundation, Arts Council England South West
Born 1961, Larache, Morocco
Lives and works London, England and Marrakech, Morocco
Apart, London www.ap-art.co.uk
Dar Sharifa Gallery, Marrakech
Represented by Rosa Issa, London
2005 FASHION IN MOTION, Victoria & Albert Museum, London
2005 Africa Remix, Hayward Gallery, London
2005 Salon Afrique, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, London
2005 Contemporary African Visual Arts, British Museum, London
2003 Graffix from the Souk, solo exhibition, Dar Sharifa Gallery, Marrakech