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Hassan Hajjaj is Morocco’s iconic pop-art photography star

Hassan Hajjaj is Morocco’s iconic pop-art photography star

Maybe you’ve seen his graphic photos, adorned with layers upon layers of colors and patterns. Hassan Hajjaj, dubbed the ‘Warhol of Marrakesh’ is a Moroccan visual artist whose photographs have drawn widespread attention and fame in recent years. As a self-taught photographer, he creates bold imaginative sets and visually arresting backdrops consisting of colorful textiles to frame his subjects. 

Hajjaj gained traction when he started capturing local Moroccan street culture with intent to juxtapose iconography of contemporary culture and consumerism with traditional Moroccan references. His photographs often include stereotypical representations of ‘oriental exoticism’, but are diffused with his camera; the meanings and interpretations of traditional cultural elements are changed through the overlay of recognizable Western brands like Louis Vuitton or Gucci, reclaiming the subject’s personal identity and unique narrative. While maintaining his distinguished visual language, Hajjaj’s photography practice has expanded to include editorial work, recently shooting notable celebrities like Billie Eilish and Cardi B.

Hajjaj’s contrasting elements create visuals that are new and fresh to the eyes of mainstream audiences. Take the women in his 2010 series “Kesh Angels” which earned him popularity- the series centers on vibrant biker women wearing Nike burqas, deliberately surrounded by a mélange of culture while breaking the barriers of traditions. His work touches on everything from fashion, pop art, to politics of gender roles and identity. 

Hajjaj, who is based in London and Marrakesh, continues to incorporate influences around him in his work, from the London music scene to Marrakesh’s vivid culture. Hajjaj’s experimentation of photography and art direction has struck a chord in creatives from Morocco and beyond- he has pushed the boundaries of the African and Arab art world and has challenged the idea of what storytelling looks like. Hajjaj, who shrugs off the Warhol title, has not only received recognition in the editorial world, but has had his work acquired and exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide, including the notable British Museum.

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