The angels of Marrakesh

2015-02-04 15:52

Amid the dunes of Saadiyat (Happiness) Island at an art fair called Abu Dhabi Art last year, I got a chance to meet with Morocco-born, London-based artist Hassan Hajjaj, who has, in his spectacular rise to stardom, placed not only Morocco but Islamic art on the map.

His portraits of young people in his home town blur the line between fashion and fine art by playing frames and scale against his iconic, highly stylised images.

“I started looking at the ways fashion trends were happening in London,” Hajjaj tells me after two cigarettes in a row, “say, for instance, when camouflage became a big thing in menswear a while ago. I started asking what would people think when that pattern, a trend, is imprinted on to a traditional jalebi worn by a woman? How would people look at that?”

Next, Hajjaj is headlining a big exhibition opening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art called Islamic Art Now. The show highlights a group of artists who are becoming increasingly marginalised in Europe and the US.

“I want to put an image in front of you and get you to ask questions about the way you see the world. When I put images in front of you, maybe you recognise that they are cool and hip, but you might also still think Muslim and terrorist. It depends on your view.” – Garreth van Niekerk

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