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Hassan Hajjaj’s US Triple Threat

2014 will kick off a busy schedule for Hassan Hajjaj: the Moroccan artist has two exhibitions in Los Angeles and a third in New York, where he will launch his first book.

All the shows really happened naturally. I’ve been wanting to do exhibitions in the States for a while now, but it was a big surprise to have three places with my work on display, more or less at the same time,” Hajjaj told Style.com/Arabia.

Hajjaj, who also designed a menswear collection with his fellow Moroccan designer Amine Bendriouich earlier this year, is known for his controversial body of work depicting men and women, in both traditional and contemporary aesthetics, staged in eye-popping scenarios.

In Los Angeles, not only was his My Rock Stars, Volume 1, 2012 video recently acquired by LACMA, the largest art museum in the Western United States, where it will be on display until July 20th, 2014, but he will also launch a solo show at the Gusford Gallery on January 9th .

On view at LACMA, his video showcases nine separately filmed performances by selected musicians, such as London-based Moroccan musician Simo Lagnawi, a Gnawa performer [traditional African-Islamic spiritual music], all dressed in traditionally-inspired clothes with a contemporary twist, designed by Hajjaj.

Meanwhile, at the Gusford Gallery, Hajjaj will present his photographic series, My Rock Stars, Volume 2, in which he portrays fellow artists as ‘rock stars’, adding a glossy touch to urban culture, while making a nod to both Arabic and African-inspired cultural identities.

His exhibition at Taymour Grahne Gallery in New York puts his Kesh Angels on display and features an ongoing photographic project about Arab girls riding motorbikes. “It’s about veiled girls on bikes,” Hajjaj continued. “’Kesh’ is short for Marrakesh, and ‘Angels’ is obviously a word play, taken from ‘Hell’s Angels’. “Next to pictures, the exhibition will showcase limited edition objects, an installation, and a video projection called Kesh Angel about a girl riding through the Medina.” The exhibition will run from January 28th to March 2nd, 2014.

And Hajjaj is not done yet. “Taymour is pushing at the moment to get my book out on time for the Kesh Angels exhibition,” he added. “My gallery in London, Rose Issa Projects, and Taymour collaborated on this project. It’s about publishing the best of my past ten years of work. It’s kind of a glossy coffee table book in some ways, about my design, film, photography, and installation work.”

Hajjaj currently lives and works between London and Marrakech. He was the winner of the 2011 Sovereign Middle East and African Art Prize, and was shortlisted for the Victoria and Albert Museum Jameel Prize in 2009. He has had solo exhibitions at The Third Line Gallery in Dubai, The Gallery at VCU in Qatar, and the ARIA Art Gallery in Florence as part of the Middle East Now Film Festival. His work was also recently exhibited at the Marrakesh Biennale in Morocco.

www.hassanhajjaj.blogspot.com

—Elisabeta Tudor

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