Brothers in art and mind
Work reflects multicultural clash between religion and popular culture
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.
, b y Hasan and Husain