Moroccan photographer Hassan Hajjaj is part of a constellation of African artists who present their works, until August 23 in New York, as part of the collective exhibition “African Spirits”.
Held in the Yossi Milo Gallery, the exhibition displays photographic works taken inside and outside the studio, tracing the iconic visual heritage of the African photo portrait from the mid-20th century to the present of contemporary art.
The exhibition, which opened its doors to the public since mid-July, was the subject this week of rich media coverage, including from the prestigious “New York Times” and public radio “NPR” (National Public Radio).
On its web page, this major US non-commercial public broadcasting network illustrated its article with a photo taken by the Moroccan artist.
“Hassan Hajjaj, born in Morocco in 1961, is often called Andy Warhol of Marrakech for his fusion between glamor and everyday life. Both are evident in his portrait of 2017, Cardi B Unity. The rap star, dressed in a high-fashion outfit, sits on utilitarian green plastic boxes on a textured fabric background. The frame consists of boxes of green tea, each decorated with a butterfly,” writes NPR.
A native of Larache, Hassan Hajjaj has lived since his adolescence between Morocco and Great Britain. He has already exhibited in many famous galleries including the Brooklyn Museum in New York and Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
In addition to the Moroccan artist, the collective exhibition at the Yossi Milo gallery presents photographers from Algeria, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria and Senegal. Others who are not from the continent are inspired by their work in Africa.
“Since its introduction on the Continent, portrait photography has remained a central part of the history of African photography. By the early 1900s, practitioners born in England and France had established permanent studios in most West African capitals. A generation of African entrepreneur-apprentices quickly turned to technology, opening their own spaces to meet the growing demand for photographs in everyday life. In the 1950s, the proliferation of photography studios and the rapid cultural adoption of the medium by photographers and customers had paved the way for the rise of post-independence artistic innovation” in an introduction to this exhibition by the American gallery.
The images, in black and white as well as in color, are imbued with the spirit of African identity. “Hanging on the walls of the gallery, the photos seem to speak to each other across time and space and make statements about African society and culture,” says NPR.
Founded in 2000, the Yossi Milo Gallery in New York aims to provide a platform for a community of influential artists working in all media, including photography, painting, sculpture, video and drawing.