Barakat Contemporary presents A Taste of Things to Come, a solo exhibition by Hassan Hajjaj from Wednesday, 5 August to Sunday, 27 September, 2020. Born in 1961 in Larache, Morocco, Hajjaj moved to the United Kingdom with his family at an early age. Today, he is an artist working principally in the photographic medium, with bases in both Morocco and the UK. The message of A Taste of Things to Come offers an excellent illustration of Hajjaj's inclusive worldview, which urges us to care for one another as we proceed through the current moment of global change faced by humankind, looking at the future from a perspective that is constructive and positive. Through his artistic body of work, he strives to convey the importance of communicating and sharing diverse cultural tastes.
Hajjaj's photographs feature the powerful and rhythmic colours and patterns of North Africa, along with figures adopting idiosyncratic poses. In his portraits, the artist produces creative frames that combine commercial objects consumed in Morocco, including drinks, cans of food, toys, recycled tires, and matchboxes. Rather than being mere decorations, these are reinterpretations of Morocco's traditional mosaic patterns and tiles from Hajjaj's perspective, giving excellent expression to the complexity of contemporary culture.His artistic vision represents the coalescence of powerful North African visual elements and his experiences with multicultural artistic realms that he encountered as a matter of course in the vast and cosmopolitan city of London during the 1970s and 1980s, including street music, fashion, and interior design. Boasting a defiant and creative spirit, Hajjaj's work guides us into a world that is diverse and exhilarating.
For this exhibition, some of Hassan Hajjaj's leading photography series—including My Rockstars, Kesh Angels, Dakka Marrakchia, and Legs—are presented along with the video work My Rockstars Experimental II. MyRockstars in particular is a photography series that records the people Hajjaj met over a more than decade long period while staging pop-up photography studios on the streets of Marrakesh, London, Paris, andDubai. A diverse range of people appear in the series' images—from famous entertainers to underground musicians, henna tattoo artists, fashion designers, hip hop dancers, martial artists, and cooks. All of them sources of artistic inspiration to Hajjaj, they each follow their own unique lifestyle and path. For this exhibition, the gallery walls and floor will be covered with wallpaper designed as a contemporary reinterpretation of regional symbols such as camels, along with the ordinary signposts often seen in Marrakesh. Through this powerful visual contrast and splendid graphic mixture, the gallery space will provide an utterly new kind of spatial and temporal experience—like stepping into one of Hajjaj's works.
Other leading series by Hajjaj include Kesh Angels and Dakka Marrakchia, which offer clever twists of Western clichés regarding Arab culture. Women hold an important place in these series: the women who appear in the works wear hijabs and sit on motorbikes in Morocco's narrow side streets. Their faces veiled in the images, they wear caftan dresses with leopard and camouflage prints. As they stand before the camera, they stare into its lens—not as secretive, passive presences, but with bold and cynical poses. Hajjaj's camera presents its figures in bold and vibrant ways, applying the kind of shot-from-below compositions seen in fashion magazines, hip hop, and martial arts performances. The works in this series, which was begun in the early 2000s, offer an excellent illustration of how deeply the artist touches upon issues of culture and identity. In addition to his photographs, the artist's boutique in Morocco will be recreated in the exhibition setting, offering a meaningful opportunity to see the full range of a diverse artistic vision spanning the fields of fashion, design, art, and commerce—all in one place.
Hassan Hajjaj (b. 1961) was born in the northern Moroccan city of Larache and works and lives in Morocco and England. Hajjaj's numerous solo and group exhibitions include those at the Hayward Gallery, London, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, Somerset House, London, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the British Museum, London, the de Young Museum, San Francisco, Centre Pompidou, Paris, and National Museum of the 21st Century (MAXXI), Rome. His work has been collected by a number of leading institutions, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, Guggenheim Museum Abu Dhabi, Brooklyn Museum, and the British Museum.
Barakat Contemporary is Barakat Gallery's new space devoted to contemporary art, conducting research based projects with a focus on the history of contact and conflict between cultures and periods. In doing so, it builds off of Barakat Gallery's extensive antiquities collection and archives, which encompass not only art but the humanities and anthropology. The gallery works with remarkable artists from Asia, Africa, theMiddle East, the Americas, and Europe, introducing their artwork to Korea and the broader art world, and supporting their long-term growth. Beyond the gallery's roster of exhibitions, Barakat Contemporary also holds seminars and other arts-related cultural programming, leading the Korean art scene in creating a forum for knowledge and discourse.
Press release courtesy Barakat Contemporary.