Brothers in art and mind

Work re­flects multi­cul­tural clash be­tween re­li­gion and popular cul­ture

Weekend Witness - - Arts -

Athlone S up­erette, FRESH fr om show­ing their w ork at the N ational Art sF es­ti­val in Grahamstown, 28­y ear­old t win brothers Hasan and Hu­sain Es­sop, are ex­hibit­ing at the Dur­ban Art Gallery un­til Oct ober 26 .

The brothers are the win­ners of the 2014 St an­dard B ank Y oung Artis t Award f or V isual Art.

Born and raised in Cape Town, they have been c ol­lab­o­rat­ing sinc e their grad­u­a­tion from the Michaelis School of F ine Art in 200 7.

Both men com­pleted a bach­e­lor of fine arts and post­grad­u­ate diploma in art at Michaelis, and pos tgrad­u­ate cer­tifi­cates in ed­u­ca­tion, at the U niver­sity of C ape Town.

When they were ap­proached by the Good­man Gallery in 2007, they pro­posed the idea of c ol­lab­o­rat­ing and mak­ing art to­gether — the first time they had w orked t ogether.

“Grow­ing up , Hu­sain and I w ere close but also apart,” ex­plains Hasan. “We went to school to­gether and lived in the same house, but we had dif­fer­ent friends, likes and in­ter­ests, and de­vel­oped dif­fer­ent iden­ti­ties and skills, which we then brought to­gether when work­ing t ogether.”

Hu­sain spe­cialised in pho­tog­ra­phy and makes all the im­por­tant tech­ni­cal de­ci­sions when set ting up a shoot.

Hasan, mean­while, is a print­maker and has a lot mor e fr ee­dom in the post­pro­duc­tion and print­ing of their work.

Both con­trib­ute to the sub­ject mat­ter and edit­ing of the phot ographs.

The t wins speak v ery vi­su­all y t o each other and man y ideas ar e born from their c on­ver­sa­tions on popular cul­ture, the me­dia and H ol­ly­wood, be­cause th­ese are the things that in­ter­est the y outh and f orm the ne xt gen­er­a­tion.

“There are many things that drive, mo­ti­vate and in­spire me,” says Hasan. “My re­li­gion and spir­i­tual belief — in my opin­ion — is the most im­por­tant, as this guides my life, cre­ative process and sub­ject mat ter.

“I lo ve art and e very­thing that comes with it. At times it is ex­tremely

786, con­tro­ver­sial and chal­leng es my be­liefs, but I am mo­ti­vated to find a bal­ance bet ween r eli­gion and art.

“My com­mu­nity and cul­ture, tra­di­tions and r eli­gion, ar e sub­ject s that I feel have not been ex­plored and this pro­vides an op­por­tu­nit y t o portr ay ideas to peo­ple that they have not en­coun­tered bef ore.”

As for their work, the t wins say it high­lights a multi­cul­tur al clash be­tween r eli­gion and popular cul­tur e.

“We ex­plore the dom­i­nat­ing in­flu­ence of Western the­atrics and those nar­ra­tives that are con­structed to de­pict a c er­tain r eal­ity,” sa ys Hu­sain.

“Each pho­to­graph re­flects us in a bat­tle of moral, re­li­gious and cul­tural con­flict. Two dom­i­nant per­son­al­i­ties ap­pear, East and West, with all their stereo­types. En vi­ron­ments ar e cho­ sen as stages on which to per­form and de­fine our beha viours.”

The E ssop t wins ha ve e xhib­ited their work at home and in Cuba, Ger­many, Dakar, F in­land and London.

They also took part in a r es­i­dency at the Thami Mneyele Foun­da­tion in Am­s­ter­dam in 2011, and held their first solo e xhi­bi­tion in the Mid­dle East at the I sabelle v an den E ynde Gallery in Dub ai, in the same y ear.

“Be­com­ing an artis t has been a dream c ome true, but at the same time, e xtremely dif­fi­cult. T o ha ve a twin brother who shares your ex­pe­ri­ences and qual­i­fi­ca­tions, and w ho is driven, is in m y opin­ion the lead­ing fac­tor in our suc­cess,” sa ys Hasan.

There have been many proud mo­ments in their ca­reer, in­clud­ing a visit from Sir El­ton John to their par­ents’ 99 S teps, b y Hasan and Hu­sain Es­sop. PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Silat Mu­lut home in Ry­lands to buy some of their work, and be­ing se­lected by Puma to cre­ate a de­sign for the na­tional soc­cer team jersey, which Bafana Bafana have been wear­ing sinc e 2011.

But the twins re­main com­mit­ted to their f am­i­lies and c om­mu­nity. B oth work full­time as t each­ers in bo ys’ schools in C ape Town.

“I be­lie ve that in or der t o shar e knowl­edge y ou need t o have it, and there­fore teach­ing has made me a be­t ter per son and artis t,” sa ys Hasan.

“I love be­ing kept busy as it keeps me sharp and r eady to embrace new chal­lenges and obs tacles.”

— Arts Ed­i­tor. • The Dur ban Art G allery is open from Mon­day to Satur­day, 8.30 am to 4 pm, and Sun­day from 11 am to 4 pm. En­try is fr ee. Phone 0 31 311 2264/9.


b y Hasan and Hu­sain E ssop.


2014 S tandard Bank Y oung Artis ts f or Visual Art s, Hasan and Hu­sain Es­sop.


b y Hasan and Hu­sain E ssop.

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