Berkeley Folks, Meet the Oakesby Sydney Johnson on Sep, 21 2012
Just about anyone familiar with UC Berkeley can say they have visited, or at least heard of the Berkeley Art Museum. What few people realize however, is that there lies another art gallery just across the street from the BAM. The Worth Ryder Gallery, located at 116 Kroeber Hall, is a small but intimate art gallery that aims to highlight up-and-coming artists, as well as new and innovative artistic strategies.
Currently, the Worth Ryder Gallery is featuring an exhibit called, “Capturing Visual Consciousness: A Tale of Two Eyes, One Brain, One Hand, and One Pen”. This display introduces you to a dynamic duo that takes their art to new levels both physically and technologically.
The quiet exhibit here at Cal offers just a glimpse into the psychedelic world of the Oakes twins. Here you will find four of their pieces, three of which were created in 2012. Along with the artwork, the exhibit features a short documentary by Robert Jason. This film, lasting about seventeen minutes, shows the process by which these artists go through to complete each piece. Specifically, it documents the brothers’ experience as they take on the task of recreating the Palazzo Strozzi Museum in Florence, Italy. Although there isn’t a word spoken throughout the film, it still offers a gateway to understanding how remarkable their strategy is.
The key to the Oakes twins’ revolutionary work lies behind their eyes, not exactly before them. After much practice and study, these artists have mastered the act of splitting their vision. Yes, it is as crazy as it sounds. A simple example of this is when you point your two index fingers towards each other and look through the space between them. Your fingers should appear to double and even touch, but focus your vision back on them and then what lies in the background doubles! This concept is sometimes called “double vision”, and the Oakes brothers have incorporated it into their art by training themselves to control their double vision while working. In turn, this allows them to create what appears to be a three-dimensional drawing on a two dimensional surface.
To begin a new drawing, the brothers must set up their canvas, which is not nearly as simple as it seems. Trevor Oakes, the brother shown drawing in Jason’s film, uses a concave canvas, which allows for the image he is recreating to appear three-dimensional. The canvas itself has a grate-like surface, allowing Trevor to see though it as he paints. Unlike most drawings, the Oakes brothers’ drawings are done only strips at a time, which take hours within themselves to finish, and are then complied together throughout the time the work is being completed.
What really caught my attention though, was the helmet attached to the canvas. Making such a special apparatus was necessary to their type of artwork, as they had to be sure Trevor’s head was completely stable while drawing. Seeing Trevor Oakes become engulfed by his creation was like watching someone who was possessed, and beyond fascinating to witness. His focus and incredible accuracy with his hand seems completely unreal, but the proof is in the incredible picture.
If seeing is believing, then I definitely suggest checking out this exhibit next time you have a few minutes to spare. Ryan and Trevor Oakes’ art will be on display in Kroeber Hall at the Worth Ryder Art Gallery/116 until October 6, 2012, and is open every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 12-5 p.m. To learn more about this event, visit http://www.zero1biennial.org/content/ryan-and-trevor-oakes .