When Melanie Hausberger was born in Innsburck, Vienna she had no idea she would be so lucky to have a teammate since day one. All it took was ten minutes for Stephanie Hausberger to come and happily join her in the expedition of life.
As artists, it’s pleasant to know you’ve met your long term partner and ongoing collaborator since your beginning. As sisters, it’s the mere feeling of chance, as they have undoubtedly become best friends.
“When painting, we always come together in various points of views,” says Stephanie. “As we meet in the middle, we’ll make something out of it.”
Once they do, their overall aesthetic focuses on linear figures and forms. Some of their lines are either straight, angular or twisted. As plentiful moods come about while painting, nothing beats the unique process of being able to start and finish each other’s sketches.
“We sometimes have the problem of having so many ideas,” Melanie tells me. “I’m curious to know how others do it; to focus on one thing only.”
It all started after graduating from SVA in 2014. Before graduating they would often find themselves collaborating, as Steph did the painting and Mel the photography. Soon after, the twins packed their bags and travelled for the purpose of nourishment and growth as creatives.
Although New York City’s pace and energy has always been their favorite, they won’t deny that a frequent inspiration revolves around places full of craftsmanship such as Italy and Austria.
As the Hausbergers have kept running back and forth from Vienna to New York, they will now find themselves back in Italy again. Only this time, to go on an artist residency in Florence called Nomeroventi; a space in which creatives can be both nourished and replenished to continue on with their artistic process.
In the accompaniment of things, besides Elizabeth Peyton's idealized portraits, the twins have always had high influence and admiration for Italian artistry. Especially during its golden age, when human anatomy and proportion dominated paintings and drawings.
In the account that Melanie and Steph may be frequently replenished with ideas, Nomeroventi is ideal, as it marks a space where one is far from distractions and in closer proximity to their inner speaker. But it’s their Austrian traditions that have seemingly kept their artistic wheel spinning.
“I remember as kids when we had cute curls and traditional dresses, we looked like angels,” says Steph. “But alongside our younger brother, we were little devils. Always doing whatever we wanted.”
I ask her if there is anything in specific that makes her say so, when both start telling me about their ‘train incident’ on their way to school.
“That morning, we both realized that the train would first make a stop in Munich before our final destination.” It didn’t take long for them to decide they would ditch school and go to Munich instead.
Although it seemed like an act of rebellion, it was more of a yearning to be able to explore the outer world that surrounded them.
“This is why our parents wanted us to be separated, we couldn’t have been this adventurous without one another,” they say.
In the new of things, they have certainly been without another. I ask them how they’ve felt about it. “We do our work together because it makes more sense,” says Steph. “But I think it’s important to figure out how not to, I mean we can’t spend our whole time together.”
Fast forward day one to now, where I chat with them during a late Fall afternoon. In doing so, I notice their striking blue eyes and delicate facial features. A beautiful and interesting looking pair who unintentionally make you want to look twice, for it is their work and overall aesthetic that tends to be distinctive.
While their style and presence may be eye-catching, it is really their kind, smart and fun persona that keeps you there. As they speak rapidly and in a strong Austrian accent, they cover subjects such as film, art and fashion. Themes in which, as much as they are talked about, also tend to be referenced in their work.
From watching Francois Truffaut and Francis Ozon movies, to reading philosophy and non fiction books, they find themselves inspired by every realm of art. They mention that works by contemporary artists such as Rita Ackerman, Camille Henrot and Anne Imhoff have had strong impact in their work.
As I proceeded with the following question, I notice Mel and Steph are done with their first sketch.
Together they set up the second sheet of paper and continue their intriguing conversation. Over dimly lit walls, there later lies a second sketch. It consists of lines figuratively forming a woman’s body. The way they see and design these silhouettes is quite peculiar, just as much as themselves.
Interestingly so, they sketch a woman’s chest both perky and medium sized. The waist is drawn narrow and small. It may remind you a bit of Monsieur Dior’s classic ‘New Look’ figure. Except, these figures are nude with no dresses whatsoever. As dancing parallel lines stem out from them, they stay lying beside each other. At this point, only elegance is noted and awe is struck. This is an M x S drawing.
“Sometimes you have to grab things if they are offered,” says Melanie. “You have to be open minded but also focus on things, because if we are all over the place it’s hard to get things done.”
The way the Hausbergers handle doubt and disagreement is by always coming back down to trust. For it is a cheerful sisterhood which makes a good team, and vice versa. “It’s a ‘what’s yours is mine’ kind of relationship,” they tell me.
That already in itself is promising, as we come to learn the amount of magic that art can cultivate. Both through relationships with others and the ones within ourselves.