Twin artists explore their unique ‘magic’
Twin artists Paul Gayter (left) and Phil Gayter with one of the works they've done to explore the mysterious twin connection.
‘This Is My Side’
Re-invent Gallery, 202 E. Wisconsin Ave., Lake Forest
Opening 6-9 p.m. March 15; show is 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Mondays-Saturdays, Sundays by appointment, March 15-April 27
Free admission, donations appreciated
www.reinventlf.com or (224) 544-5961
Updated: March 13, 2013 12:51PM
Do twins have a psychic bond that singletons don’t? If they do, can art prove it?
That’s the mystery twin artists Phil and Paul Gayter delve into with their “double blind” series of paintings and objects. Each twin paints one side of a canvas (Paul takes the left since he is the elder by four minutes) then conceals his side and sends it to the other. Without looking at the hidden side or having any knowledge of its concept, the other twin paints his side.
Oftentimes they will each pick a word (unknown to the other) to incorporate. And as their work has evolved they’ve moved away from canvas pieces into other mediums: mirrors, bowls and furniture.
“There is absolute zero collaboration in the creation,” said Phil. “We wanted to be scrupulous in that sense, because we wanted to see what would happen as well.”
The result is a remarkable study in twin-ism, creative connectivity, and art. Their debut show, “This Is My Side,” runs March 15-April 27 at the Re-invent Gallery in Lake Forest.
Born in England, both men have worked in similar careers marketing and advertising. Both men have painted all their lives, encouraged by a mother who was a textile designer. They share a quirky sense of humor and wit. However, they’ve spent the last 30-odd years living apart, often on opposite sides of the country. Currently, Phil lives in Lake Forest, Paul resides in Reston, Va.
The brothers are charming and witty and clearly as intrigued as anyone by what their method uncovers. “The whole process has been an absolute eye-opening, blast riot,” Phil said. “There are a lot of happy coincidences or whatever you want to call it.”
Phil allows that “90 percent (of the pieces) are spot on and the other 10 percent are really interesting.” Sometimes they end up using complementary colors or there is a strong connectivity of color and concepts. Sometimes a theme or technique unites the two sides.
“People often ask us, ‘how do we know you’re not cheating?’” Phil said. “Well, what’s the point of that? We’re doing this because we want to see what happens too.”
The concept of double blind painting emerged three years ago when they did a joint show in Kansas City that compared and contrasted their styles. The night before the opening they stumbled upon the idea of doing a piece where each of them painted one side of a canvas, unaware of what the other one was doing. That painting was the one that drew everyone’s attention at the exhibit and the men knew they were on to something.
“It’s an exploration of painting and of being twins,” Phil said. “It’s about what happens when two people are very alike and what the possibilities are.”
Gallery owners Kristin Mikrut and Cecilia Lanyon expect the show to interest twins and non-twins alike. “You talk to anyone and they know a twin, it’s something very relatable,” said Mikrut. “Apart from it being the fine art aspect, we really think it will appeal to a wide range of visitors.”
Phil and Paul agree that there’s more to it than just twin connectivity “We’re really interested in human connectedness,” said Phil. “Whether you’re a twin or a best friend or married, people like to hear about the connectedness. When you live with someone or know someone really well, you start to complete their sentences. There’s a certain amount of that in all of us, but with twins, with the DNA, it goes deeper.”
This exhibit is the first to feature only their “double blind” works, and the connection with Re-invent, a new gallery which also includes a retail space and workshop, feels right.
“We’re always trying to bring in shows that are interesting and relevant and yet still work in Lake Forest.” Lanyon explains. “This is an amazing show because there’s remarkable human interest as well as fine art going on. It works on many levels.”
And the revelations continue to astound. Last week, Paul painted his half of a bowl, taped it up and sent it to Phil to complete.
“When I revealed it, I gasped. There’s some magic going on here. It’s just magical.”
The show opens March 15, which happens to be Phil and Paul’s birthday. There will be cake, of course, and in keeping with the spirit of the show, each will pick out his own cake and do a “reveal” at the opening party.