Whilst exploring all that Marrakech has to offer, it’s highly likely that you will come across the works of world renowned artist Hassan Hajjaj. His creations can be found gracing the walls of numerous venues in the red city, but his work branches out much further than Marrakech,
Hassan Hajjaj is a Moroccan born, contemporary artist – better known as “The Andy Warhol of Morocco”. Branching out from his roots, Hajjaj (born Larache), now works between the cities of Marrakech, London and New York; making a name for himself on both the underground and mainstream art worlds.
His contemporary works come in the format of film & photography, as well as a combination of mixed media pieces in a vibrant “pop art” genre. Hassan Hajjaj spoke in an interview with ArtNet News about his influences, and although naturally inspired by a range of photographers who’s images have appeared in various magazine spreads; the majority of his influence comes from music and his presence in the underground music scene over the years of his life. His photographs and films take on an aspect of story telling, documenting the present moment, or taking a look into the potential of the future, always giving the viewer an impression of the human characters involved.
As Hajjaj’s career has taken off, he has made many notable achievements as an artist. In 2009, Hajjaj was shortlisted for Victoria & Albert Museum’s Jameel prize, and in 2011, he was awarded the Sovereign Middle East and African Art Prize. In 2013, Rose Issa Projects published a monograph of the artist exploring his upbringing in Morocco and London, focusing particularly on the significance of his experiences in fashion, interior design, the music scene and his highly-acclaimed photographic creations. Recently he shot the front cover for New York magazine, featuring music artist Cardi B. He describes this type of commissioned work as being much more about meeting the brief of the client, than exploring his own creative intuition; however he remains true to his very distinctive styling, namely brightly coloured motifs and borders which pay tribute to his African, or more specifically Moroccan heritage. In fact, these pop-art style borders and motifs, particularly mimic the traditional Mosaic which is seen repeatedly in Moroccan architecture; but have evolved to often also have a similarity to the bold patterns of West African prints.
As his art career progresses, Hajjaj remains connected to Morocco and the influences which inspired him from the beginning. Largely, his personal creations (which are not commissioned by other clients) still feature characters and attributes of the Maghreb.
In fact, Hajjaj’s studio in Marrakech is open to the public and is found under the name of Riad Yima, located just behind Rahba Lakdima, more commonly known as the Place des Epices (Spice Market). The space is now a dedicated gallery for the vibrant photographic pieces, as well as a tea room and boutique. A must see for all art enthusiasts staying in Marrakech.
During the Marrakech 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, held on the last weekend of February 2018; Riad Yima housed performances by Hassan Hajjaj himself, as well as an exhibition of photographic works by Yassine Aaoui Ismaili, also known as Yoriyas. Yoriyas is an up and coming, Casablanca-based photographer. This particular exhibition focused on showcasing a more honest view of the city of Casablanca, beyond the Colonial impression which was so famously publicised in the 1942 feature length film.
Be sure to visit Riad Yima, and keep your eyes peeled for Hassan Hajjaj’s iconic works on your next visit to Marrakech. Contact us today at Marrakech Riad to plan your trip!