Hassan Hajjaj, the Moroccan stylist and photographer, started out simply wanting to capture the essence of his home country in ways his buddies back in London would appreciate.
The 53-year-old multidisciplinary artist was born in Morocco and moved to London in his teens, at the height of the punk craze. For the last 15 years, he’s joined the two cultures, splitting his time between Marrakech and London as he turns out densely textured portrait photography that plays well in the West but requires North African artistry to even exist at all.
His subjects are his current friends, who pose and dress in ways that translate into arresting hybrid art. A recent series,Kesh Angels, depicts a cross-section of this crowd — mostly women — in traditional clothes printed in global symbols of capitalism. Here a Louis Vuitton print, there a Nike swoosh. Many are henna tattoo artists who embody nuance in their daily life, zipping to jobs on a scooter, head scarves in place. Likewise, Hajjaj’s first solo show in America —My Rock Stars: Volume 2 — presented his male friends in the overblown poses of a Western icon, the rock star.