How The Kaplan Twins Are Using Instagram to Push their Provocative Art

Shyema Azam   -   August 4, 2017

In just a few minutes of sitting with the Kaplan Twins, I’m finding it hard not to get sucked into their energy. They’re disarmingly excited, talking often in unison and finishing each other’s sentences. The 24-year-olds, Lexi and Allie, have already made headlines with their provocative art work. In one series called “Make Me Famous,” they illustrate scenes from celeb sex tapes. Most recently they debuted their #SATONYOURFACE collection, in which they literally painted each other’s behinds before sitting on top of illustrated faces of artists and figures like Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, and Donald Trump (the paintings were selling for up to $1,000 each). But their main medium for disruption has been Instagram, where they integrate themselves into their art. We sat with the twins at the Beautycon HQ to speak more about their method of self-expression:

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Beautycon: You’ve been making a name for yourselves in the art world using social media. How are you using Instagram differently than other artists?

Allie Kaplan: We noticed a lot of artists post their work on Instagram but for us, it was super important to also show who we are. We always compare it to having a favorite musician or favorite actress — you need to know who the person is and understand them and their work and craft…

Lexi Kaplan: And view them as in icon, not just the work that they create. You feel more connected when you know who the person is. For us, we were thinking a lot about the gallery scene in New York versus the pop-culture/entertainment world out here [in LA], and we were always thinking that we didn’t want to wait for someone to knock on our door and come to us with an opportunity. We’re always out there trying to create our own opportunities for ourselves.

What is the creative process like for both of you – you paint together, right?

Allie: We do everything together, on the same canvas. We talk at the same time…

Lexi: Usually she’ll take a side, so Allie will be on the left side and I’ll be on the right side. She’ll just start there and then we move around. It’s like a dance.

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Why take on the nude selfie?

Lexi: It’s serious and it’s not serious. If you like the way you look and you want to take a selfie, there’s nothing wrong with that. And for these celebrities, whether or not they were intended to get out to the public or…

Allie: Which they weren’t…

Lexi: They were taken because they felt confident. So when the were initially leaked, there’s a lot of backlash and they’re made to feel bad about it, and have shame. But it shouldn’t be like that. These are confident, body-positive women. And we wanted to put ourselves into that conversation.

Is this a bigger commentary on slut shaming for you?

Allie: I would say that it’s more of a commentary on the fact that we that we want to change the conversation around [slut shaming] — to take back the space and change it.

Lexi: And there’s a specific reason why we chose the women that we chose. People wondered why we didn’t paint Jennifer Lawrence, and it’s because she went out into the word and she said it’s a sex crime and that’s something we’d never want to do.

Allie: We would paint someone like Amber Rose, who does the Slut Walk, and Kim Kardashian who has a book of herself literally naked. If one day we get these women to come to our studio and are able to paint them that would be amazing…

Lexi: Or to have a conversation with them and get their opinions. By putting ourselves into that, it feels like we’re joining that [discussion].

As artists, what do you hope to change in the conversation about self-expression?

Allie: In the art world, we want artists to be more recognized as creatives in the industry.

Lexi: Everything has followed a more digital pattern and art hasn’t really yet…

Allie: But I think Instagram and social media are helping to change that…

Lexi: And it’s helping artists put themselves out there and for people to know who they are and not just the objects they create. Because it used to be that you’d only be able to see those objects in a gallery or a museum…

Allie: But even fashion designers like Jeremy Scott or Marc Jacobs, they’re very much the face of their own brand. But think about how many years ago, that wasn’t necessarily the case.

Basquiat, West, Bieber, Trump…whaddup. Which is your favorite?

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You’ve recently received a lot of attention for your #SATONYOURFACE series because one of your works featured Donald Trump…

Lexi: I don’t think we thought of it as some big political statement but it has that undertone…

Allie: We can’t control what people say about it or feel about it. We just like to generate some sort of conversation; it’s almost better for us as artists to hear what other people have to say about our work…

Lexi: And then build on that…

Allie: Because our job as artists is to reflect on the time that you’re living in and then make some sort of artwork or commentary about it. And that’s what we do — we comment through visuals.

Follow the Kaplan Twins at @the_kaplan_twins.

Shyema Azam

 


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