Planning and preparing for a trip can be a great part of the travel fun. That was certainly true today. To get myself in the Moroccan mood, I stopped by the Taymour Grahne Gallery on Hudson Street in Manhattan to see their exhibition of various works by Hassan Hajjaj, the Moroccan born and London based artist. His large photographs of "Kesh Angels," beautiful Moroccan women in Marrakesh, are full of life and captivating. The women are wearing what appear to be traditional garb, veils and robes; and they are also atop motorcycles, many with dark sunglasses, and looking very chic, smart, strong, and hip in bright colors and patterns. One wants to get to know these women. They certainly support my wanting to go to Morocco for the textiles and color. As you see in the two images below, the photographs are placed in beautifully constructed frames that form a surround filled with objects of popular culture, consumerism, and everyday food stuff (examples are soda cans and Moroccan spam tins). Hassan Hajjaj has been called a Moroccan Andy Warhol. His photographs have the sheen of fancy fashion shoots but raise important questions about the meeting of east and west, traditional and modern, the street and culture.
Hajjaj's work can also provide a psychological punch. Most striking for me was his collection of small prints on cardboard. Each was only 13" by 11," very small in comparison to the central exhibition photographs that had typical dimensions of 4 and 5 feet. Again we have photographs of women on motorcycles, but these are photographs of dolls clothed and arranged by the artist, with his props. in his special way. The photos are printed on the bottoms of coca cola cartons with the impressions left by the cans providing an intriguing quilted background for the dolls.
Hajjaj is also famous for his installations. Many of these like the one on the left are lounges meant for lounging. They contain the furniture and decorative pieces he has made from everyday recycled objects. For example, the banquette shown here is made from upside down plastic cartons commonly used to carry soda cans. Again, there is a mixing of traditional and modern.
Can't wait to get to Morocco to find the spaces that inspired this one and everything else in this gallery show.