For the twelfth episode of Why Morocco, I sat down with pop artist Hassan Hajjaj, Morocco’s own Andy Warhol as dubbed by the press, to chat about his artworks and the question of identity, a topic that fascinates me here on the edge of western Africa.
I was first introduced to Hassan’s work at the Marrakech Art Fair back in 2011 at the Es Saadi Palace. The piece was an American flag created using Coca-Cola cans with the brand name written in Arabic and a veiled woman with a star-covered niqab in the top-left hand corner. It stopped me in my tracks. That evening, my friends and I, along with most of Marrakech, went out to the opening of his solo show at Matisse Galerie in Gueliz. And that’s where I fell in love with his artworks. Using familiar brands – Barbie, Louis Vuitton, Coca-Cola – Hassan introduced me to another side of Morocco through his artworks.
I’ve since enjoyed watching his film Karima: A Day in the Life of a Henna Girl in the presence of the artist at his studio and often look out for Karima amongst the other hennia while wandering in the square, soaking up the cultural side of Jemaa el Fna with guests on our Tasting Marrakech tour.
A recent favourite was his solo show My Maroc Stars at L’Atelier 21 in Casablanca for the colours, the fun representations of Moroccan every day life turn in to fashion items to dress his stars, and the recognizable faces. Some images from this collection are on display at his former riad turned tearoom and shop, a popular stop for art lovers on our Hidden Marrakech tour and it’s not uncommon for guests to pick up an original artwork.
Listen in as Hassan Hajjaj tells us about the process of putting together a photo shoot, ideas for upcoming films and thoughts on identity: https://mandyinmorocco.com/podcast/why-morocco-012-pop-artist-and-photographer-hassan-hajjaj-on-his-art-and-identity/