The Essop brothers talk about art in a time of terrorism

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panorama At 2.4m wide, the Essop brothers’ latest panoramic work, Mass Grave, explores the afterlife in over 100 separate images connected together to include the full spectrum of the cameraPHOTOs: hasan AND husain essop
panorama At 2.4m wide, the Essop brothers’ latest panoramic work, Mass Grave, explores the afterlife in over 100 separate images connected together to include the full spectrum of the cameraPHOTOs: hasan AND husain essop


Johannesburg - Things have changed since the last time I spoke with Hasan and Husain Essop. It’s almost two years after their ground-breaking Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year exhibition – a stirring, edgy, youthful take on what it’s like growing up Muslim in South Africa – but as they make their return to the Goodman Gallery next month, it appears that things are getting more serious in their lives, and more brave in the images they’re making.

Their latest solo exhibition, titled Refuge, emerges as tension strains harder in the Middle East, the Syrian refugee crisis unfolds in increasing horror, and the terrorist attacks, such as the recent one in Manchester, continue to disturb the West. Today they are South African artists who find themselves caught in a global crisis, and their new work, as a result, delves deeper than they have before into these layers of Islamophobia, displacement and the meaning of Islam.

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