Hassan Hajjaj's dynamic, colourful photography celebrates everyday people and challenges stereotypes around Muslim women

Tora Baker, Creative Boom, May 13, 2019

In his colourful and dynamic new series, The Path, Moroccan-British photographer Hassan Hajjaj examines everyday objects, brand logos and more to consider the meaning of culture and cultural identity in an increasingly globalised world.

On show at Nottingham's New Art Exchange, The Path features new works from the artist's My Rockstars series alongside a new collection of previously unseen travel photographs titled Between, plus new works from the Dakka Marrakchia series and a site-specific installation entitled Le Salon (naturally, it looks to be very much a salon-style hang, if a very fresh take on it).


It's a hugely vibrant exhibition, with every colour of the rainbow jostling alongside the Sprite cans and tomato tins Hajjaj works into his picture frames.


Taking a closer look at his My Rockstars series, Hajjaj was commissioned to produce a portrait of a resident from the city, for his ongoing celebrations of everyday people. Called The Everyday Superstars, the project encouraged local people to nominate remarkable individuals from the city, such as those campaigning for social change, supporters of young people or those who have found accomplishment in the face of adversity. The overall winner, Nadia Latoya Higgins, was selected by a panel of young people and went on to be styled and photographed by Hajjaj; with her image later placed alongside his other "rock stars".


Elsewhere in the show is Hajjaj's Dakka Marrakchia series, in which the artist seeks to portray Muslim women in model-like poses, highlighting the fact they are—unlike many assume—dynamic and empowered.


Hassan Hajjaj was born in Larache, Morocco, and immigrated to London at an early age. Heavily influenced by the club, hip-hop, and reggae scenes of the city, as well as his North African heritage, Hajjaj is a self-taught artist. He works across portraiture, installation, performance, fashion, and interior design, including furniture made from recycled objects, such as Coca-Cola crates and aluminium cans.


"Much of Hajjaj's work focuses on figures whose family origins mostly lie abroad, in Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East or elsewhere," says the gallery. "Through this theme, Hajjaj conjures a vision of a society united, not divided, by difference. At a time of major conflict in Britain, Hajjaj's portraits make an urgent, timely case in favour of hybridity and multiculturalism."


Hassan Hajjaj: The Path is at New Art Exchange until 23 June 2019.


From the Creative Boom website.