From 5 October, Somerset House and 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, in association with Vigo Gallery presents Hassan Hajjaj: La Caravane, the British Moroccan artist’s first show in London for seven years. The exhibition will continue throughout Somerset's House winter season.
Using portraiture (photography and video), installation, sculpture, and performance, Hajjaj aims to seduce the viewer whist confronting culture-specific beliefs and values. His multi-layered works fuse traditional and contemporary North African culture with familiar Western imagery and iconography through appropriation and adaption.
His artworks reflect his neo-nomadic lifestyle and the relationships he has formed with a variety of characters along the way, from musicians to artists and athletes to street performers.Hajjaj is perhaps best known for his colourful portraits, including the Kesh’s Angels series, from which there will be several new works in the exhibition. Blending the glossy aesthetic of a fashion shoot with Moroccan tradition and street culture, these witty and poignant images, although outwardly light-hearted, challenge Western perceptions of the hijab and female disempowerment.
Another new body of work in the exhibition is My Rock Stars: Volume 2, a nine screen installation of dapper musicians. Each occupies an individual screen and takes it in turns to play their instrument, while the other performers turn to watch.
A number of public events will accompany Hassan Hajjaj's exhibition. Somerset House is delighted to welcome writer and broadcaster Ekow Eshun to join Hassan Hajjaj in conversation on 5 October. Eshun will explore the multifaceted nature of Hajjaj's work, and investigate how the artist assimilates his different worlds into his work. Eshun has also contributed to a full colour catalogue to coincide with the exhibition, available at £9.95.
On 6 Jauary a free special event will take place to celebrate the final weekend of the exhibition and Somerset House's season of African Art, including live music and a family workshop inspired by elements of Hajjaj's work.