Hassan Hajjaj Is a Man of Many Talents: My Rock Stars Volume 1

Hassan Hajjaj Is a Man of Many Talents: My Rock Stars Volume 1

jack-of-all-trades is supposedly a master of none, but Hassan
Hajjaj’s series My Rock Stars Volume 1 proves that the Moroccan
photographer is a man of many talents. These lively portraits see
Hajjaj juggle roles as an artist, tailor, conductor, weaver,
photographer, embroiderer, manager, roadie and designer. He is
truly a one-man band, marching to the beat of his own drum.

The artist’s journey began in the small Morrocan harbour town
Larache, where he spent his early days fishing, gambling with
Coca-Cola bottle tops and designing and creating jewellery. With
his natural flair for artisanal craftsmanship, inspired by the
traditions of sub-Saharan Africa and the Sufi brotherhoods,
Hajjaj’s diverse skill set came into its own when he moved to
London in the 1970s. He soon found himself exploring many different
interests – promoting reggae nights as well as styling, designing
and running a fashion boutique in Covent Garden.

But for all his success, Hajjaj has remained true to his roots.
His past work has examined the stereotypical notions of Morocco and
North Africa perpetrated by European Orientalist paintings of the
19th century. Reimagining these images, he uses materials and
motifs with which we are all familiar, but rearranges them in
unexpected ways.

My Rock Stars Volume 1 is less of a critique than his previous
work, which includes the celebrated series Kesh Angels, focusing on
questions of female authority in Morocco. These images are instead
a deeply felt tribute to a diverse group of people, all of whom are
artists in their own ways – from the henna women of Marrakech, via
the fashion designers and dancers of Paris and London, to the Gnawa
music masters of Morocco. Recognisable images of Pepsi cans evoke
Andy Warhol’s Pop Art while the images’ vivid and textured
backgrounds are inspired by the weaving traditions of Hajjaj’s
native country.

The key word in the title is ‘my’ because the photographer’s
subjects are not all global superstars, except in his eyes. Here
the artist’s friends find themselves supersized, accessorised with
a signature addition of sunglasses, socks, hats or suits – and
powerfully immortalised through his lens.

All images are part of the My Rock Stars Volume 1 series
Courtesy of Third Line Gallery in Dubai, UAE, Gusford Gallery, Los
Angeles, USA Taymour Grahne Gallery and Newark Museum, New York,

A pink bedroom at El Fenn

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