HASSAN HAJJAJ 'KESH ANGELS'
28 January - 7 March 2014
Taymour Grahne Gallery is proud to present 'Kesh Angels', a solo exhibition of work by the Moroccan-born, UK-based artist, Hassan Hajjaj. Marking the artist’s first exhibition in New York, ‘Kesh Angels presents a unique take on the vibrant street culture of Morocco and pays tribute to the biker culture of the young women of Marrakesh in a series of photographs, limited edition objects, an installation, and a video.
Hajjaj’s work plays with and upends stereotypes, the power of branding, and the familiarity of everyday objects, applying a ‘street-wise’ approach to his layering of influences, items, and cultural signifiers to imbue the work with an electrifying tension. His confident, upbeat portraits of young women wearing veils and djellabah while posing on motorcycles subvert preconceived notions of Arab women; his subjects are traditionally clad but defiantly modern, bearing bright smiles and the markers of youth, independence, celebration, and fun. As Kelly Carmichael writes in her 2010 essay in Contemporary Practices, “Hajjaj’s approach is to toy with the perceptions of Arabic culture and the relationship between East and West, recasting iconic images and allowing shafts of 21st century light to reenergize the encounter… [while] his practice on inclusion and contrast rarely offers just one aesthetic of theoretical opinion.”
Borrowing from the tradition of African studio photography and the glossy aesthetic of the fashion shoot, Hajjaj’s work combines the personal with the political, the individuality of his subjects framed by consumer goods and adorned with the trappings of culture and branding. The handcrafted inlaid wood frames are made up of quotidian branded objects like soda cans and Moroccan packaging, mixing old and new, both responding to and completing the works they surround.
The exhibition is also accompanied by a book on the last decade of Hajjaj’s work, published jointly by Taymour Grahne Gallery and Rose Issa Projects, London. Concurrently, the artist’s three-channel video installation My Rock Stars, Volume I (2012) is on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California, through 20 July, 2014. The work, which features performances by international musicians wearing clothes designed by Hajjaj, is a recent acquisition by the museum.