UAE-based social enterprise 81 Designs will collaborate with internationally-renowned, contemporary artist Hassan Hajjaj, to transform Art Dubai’s Julius Baer Lounge into a creative space to showcase the artist’s signature style. Displayed will be his works, recreated by Palestinian women refugees in traditional tatreez (cross stitch). FACT explores…

Hassan Hajjaj has become one of the most prominent artists of our time. He merges the realms of fine art and popular culture, working with several mediums; photography, film, installations, and sculptures. Now, his works, recreated by Palestinian women refugees in traditional tatreez (cross stitch), will be presented at the 12th edition of Art Dubai, taking place at Madinat Jumeirah from March 21 to 24. Through his work, Hassan uses cultural elements and popular objects as his subject to tell stories about our fast-paced world. Inspired by hip-hop, underground club scenes, subcultures, pop art and his North African roots, his signature style is identified by the distinctive mix of colours in his portraits which are boxed with brightly sculptural frames.

Hassan has selected 14 pieces from his collection titled Graffix from the Souk, where he playfully applied new technology to redefine the imagery that pervaded nostalgia from his childhood. The collection is a visual celebration of the street level graphic art of his native land, Morocco. Graffix from the Souk has been exhibited in various locations in Morocco, France and the UK. Based in London, Hassan visited the Palestinian refugee camps in Ain El Helweh, South Lebanon to meet the craftswomen employed by 81 Designs. He said: “It is such an honour to meet the ladies who are striving to survive and capture how they gracefully do it despite their condition. This should be an eyeopener to those who do not realise how lucky they are,” he added. “It makes me proud to collaborate with 81 Designs and have the opportunity to help support distressed women through my art.” Following this experience, Hassan has vowed to empower the women more and work with them through 81 Designs for various projects.

A conscious organisation which was established to bring both art and humanity together by mother-daugther tandem Nesrine El-Tibi Maalouf and Nadine Y. Maalouf. 81 Designs responds to a global environment and envisions employing as many skilled artisan women refugees as possible by giving them hope and a renewed sense of purpose in life.

Co-founder Nadine said: “Following our successful launch last year, we had to find an artist who shares the same values. We have always been a supporter of pop art and recognise the good it does. Hassan has made a name in the world of art with his amazing talent and generous heart. For us, he is a perfect partner of choice.” The embroidered art by 81 Designs will be presented on 45 x 90cm canvases and will be presented during Art Dubai on March 21 at 6.30pm. The Julius Baer lounge will be transformed into an art space featuring Hassan’s signature style, and will be a venue for a talk hosted by Nadine and Hassan. During the presentation, a film created by Ted Beagles, British-born director working out of Dubai, London and Los Angeles in drama, commercials, documentary and music video, will also be shown.