Sunday, April 18, 2021


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Sarah Perles Gazin' (2015) by Hassan Hajjaj as part of My Rockstars @Yossi Milo Gallery

With Spring in the air and the availability of COVID vaccines, the "next normal" approaches as New York City and parts of the world emerge from a year overshadowed by the global pandemic. Feeling increasingly distant from all things fashion, I'm excited to stumble on a gallery gem between a birthday brunch and baby duty. Hassan Hajjaj delights with a solo exhibit featuring fashion portraiture entrenched in culturally conspicuous colors, piercing patterns and spot-on styling. My Rockstars at Yossi Milo Gallery reinvigorates the inner fashionsta and exudes positive energy. Keep reading for a look inside...

Installation view from the door; Coca-Cola crates with bamboo printed cushions and Louis Vuitton cushions in the viewing room

Behind the relatively plain neon sign, ‘cool’ is elevated to the next level across two galleries and a viewing room of portraiture, with subject and styling appeal. A tribute to the talent that inspires him, My Rockstars showcases 33 of Hassan Hajjaj’s friends—known and unknown—surreptitiously styled and photographed in pop-up studios on the streets of Paris, London, Marrakech, Dubai and Kuwait over the last two decades. Without an afterthought, each subject is bathed in contrasting prints, posed--standing or sometimes sitting on a crate or motorbike--and set against textile or plastic mats from Morocco and West Africa. Cardi B, Riz Ahmed, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Hank Willis Thomas are familiar faces among the many. "I met so many incredible characters that are my true rock stars" Hajjaj says of his subjects, "Maybe they're not mainstream, but they live by their code of what they do."

[L] Nisa Bikin' (2015) // [R] Master Cobra Mansa (2012)

Color and confidence dominate every portrait, all of which are offset by a tight crop and a custom frame filled with cautiously curated consumer products. Tea tins, condiments, canned vegetables, beverages and containers--each perfectly proportioned and chosen for their color, content and aesthetics--carry deep cultural context. From a creative vision of juxtaposing garish glamour and current culture, self-taught British Moroccan photographer and artist Hassan Hajjaj engages his audience with an upbeat tone at a time of rejuvenation. My Rockstars is on view until May 29th at Yossi Milo Gallery. Hassan Hajjaj's Vogue: The Arab Issue is showing concurrently at Fotographiska NYC.

Omar Offendum (2013)

[L] Opal Tometi (2018) // [R] Mr. M Mazouz (2011)

Khalid's back (2016)

Installation view 

[L] Simo's Back (2014) // [R] Alexander Nilere (2013)

Gypzee Bikin' (2018)

Installation view

Cardi B (2017)

[L] Rilene (2013) // [R] Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (2017)

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