Twin Talks: Melanie and Stephanie Hausberger

05.11.2019 | Art , Blog | BY:

Taking inspiration from Tyrolean mountains and New York, Austrian twin sisters Melanie and Stephanie Hausberger make striking work about womanhood, connection and nature. Twin caught up with the twin sisters to talk about the synchronicity of creativity, New York hang outs and the creative power of two.

Duplications in nature and the female form are subjects that you return to in your works. What are you both drawn to?

Recently we were going though our works we created when we were really young and its striking how figures and the female form always have been the major subject. Being identical twins we always were very much of aware of people judging our differences and compare us. In our work its about the way these figures embody the world, the way they relate to one another. And then of course there is body image, which is another big theme we are interested in since we have a history of struggling with it. 

Also, growing up we never really had access to art museums or gallery, for us getting a magazine like I-D or Vogue, was a big deal. They certainly influenced our aesthetics and style too, the people featured but also the fashion ads and campaigns. We like to add nature since its timeless and also calming. Expressionist artists work such as Kirchner or Otto Mueller also incorporated a lot of natural scenes, and those works are the first ones we were exposed to. Also we grew up in the Alps, being outside in nature was a big part of our childhood. 

But we think our work has many layers and is quite complex sometimes, as art should be, so there is always the possibility to have a different perspective and one can read many things into our work. We like to let the viewer question our work, and we like if its not too obvious.

What does your creative process look like?

We are not working from photographs or pictures, its all out from our imagination and the accumulated input and inspiration. We are really sensitive to colors, patters, atmospheres and we always explore the places we are traveling to, whether for work or pleasure, often wonder how beautiful something is although nobody else seems to notice.

Also, we are very much influenced and inspired by the history and language of painting, we look and read a lot about art, so whether consciously or unconsciously we incorporate all this in our work. 

We love how art opens up new horizons and teaches one to think in different ways. For us, Painting and drawing is our way to reflect and explore everything, and we love how working together on a painting you never quite know what it will come out in the end since you don’t have full control – it can happen that I paint over something my sister just painted so one really has to let go of control. 

On larger drawings we also work on at the same time, with smaller ones we switch around until its finished. 

When it comes to creativity, do you think collaboration is generally more powerful than individual effort?

We find that our collaboration is a huge blessing – unless we have a hard time agreeing on something. We both have a very strong sense of what we want to make, so it can happen that we argue for a while…but that is rare because we instinctively know what the other wants and vice versa, maybe thats a twin thing… In the end every work we make is a teamwork  and we work toward a common vision. So yes, if things run well, a collaborative process can be more powerful than an individual one.

As both individuals and artists your visual identity is very distinct, how did this develop? 

Well, it is probably a mix of many things. The location (in the Tyrolean Alps) we grew up, our early influences, our own curious characters, and of course New York. We both always knew what we liked or disliked aesthetically. Early one we were drawn towards paintings and drawings, even though at that point we had no idea that one can become an artist per se. We both remember always feeling the impulsion to make things, not only to look.  We are very interested in many subjects outside art which eventually inform our work. Aesthetic decisions were always much easier for us than deciding on the mundane things of daily life. Its interesting that even though we spent time apart for longer periods, attending different schools at times, we were always drawn to the same artists and art movements.

What do you see as the relationship between photography and drawing / painting? 

Photography is a quick medium and for us, since we draw very quickly they both are quite similar in their ability to capture impressions and moments. 

Photography has always played a part in our live, shooting each other all these years when growing up and studying in New York. 

We both have this urge to record things, which we used to do through solely drawing before the iPhone came out. Now drawing and photography go side by side. We photograph a lot of inspirations, have separate folders sorted by theme and so on, but when it comes to painting then we try and trust our own instinct and ability to 

You both studied in New York, did the city help to shape or impact your work?

We love NY, its pace and energy perfectly lends itself to our lifestyle. The city definitely shaped our work – we love the New York School artists such as De Kooning, Lee Krassner, Joan Mitchell and also Francesco Clemente and Alex Katz. Those mixed with Austrian and German Expressionism seems to be the base of our work. 

What are your favourite places in New York?

Our regular go to spot has always been Souen, unfortunately there is only one left. Tomoe Sushi has the best sashimi platters, and we love classic New York restaurants more than the new “trendy” ones, such as Odeon, Balthazar or Raoul’s. For drinks in the evenings, when we go its usually Paul’s Baby Grant, Primos or Alley Cat at the Beekman Hotel. Bemelsman’s Bar at the Carlyle Hotel is also really beautiful.

Which other creative duos are you inspired by?

We like what Gert and Uwe Tobias are doing and the Haas Brothers,  and we think there are a couple of Filmmaker duos such as the Dardenne Brothers, which we think make great work together.

What are you working on at the moment, and what are you looking forward to for the rest of the year?

Right now we are preparing work for an upcoming show in Brussels in December. The rest of the year we Milan, where we are excited to work on a new body of work. 

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