David Hockney’s latest painterly passion, the results of which are currently on display at the Pace Gallery in New York City, consists of an elaboration of his ongoing fascination with reverse perspective, this time by way of notched hexagonal canvases, such as the one above. As I discussed in my catalogue essay for the show, this current round in his interest was in part spurred by his encounters with the thinking of an early-twentieth-century Russian Orthodox monk, but for my own part, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the work of Trevor and Ryan Oakes, young identical twin artists whose ideas I’ve been following for several years (as has David, after I introduced them to him).
Unlike the sorts of identical twins who develop secret languages from infancy, Trevor and Ryan (born in 1982), out of West Virginia and before that Colorado, had been carrying on a conversation, virtually since toddlerhood, on the nature of bifocal vision—what it is like, that is, to see with two eyes. (Around age ten, their parents once told me, they could be found sitting on stumps out in the woods, twenty feet apart, trying to work out what the depth perception might be of a dragon with eyes that far apart.) Notwithstanding their tender years, they’d been thinking about this stuff a long time—almost as far back as David when he started making his Polaroid collages. And as it happens, the ideas that seem most pertinent to Hockney’s current concerns are the twins’ theories on depth perception, which they developed when studying together at Cooper Union as they developed a system for making camera-obscura-exact drawings deploying no other equipment than their own two eyes (a facility that obviously came to fascinate Hockney). Read More