Baum Test: Gregory Lind Gallery, San Fransisco

In his third solo show at Gregory Lind Gallery Irish artist Eamon O´Kane continues his investigations into nature, architecture and the human condition.

The artist presents a new series of small and medium scale paintings and drawings on panel and paper in which he investigates a 1958 Berkeley psychological study. Ten of America’s most famous architects agreed to participate in a weekend of psychological testing aimed at understanding, once and for all, the personality traits that combine to produce extraordinary creativity. O´Kane has painted and drawn a number of works based on buildings designed by the ten architects Richard Neutra, I.M. Pei, Eliot Noyes, Louis Kahn, Pietro Belluschi, John Johansen, Ernest J. Kump, A. Quincy Jones, Warren Callister, and Raphael Soriano. Using images of these buildings both interior and exterior the artist plays with mirroring, color and the absence of it, blurring, memory, the negative, difference and repetition.

For example in the diptych painting on panel based on the architecture of Richard Neutra, the Overway-Schiff House (which is located in the Marina neighborhood of San Francisco) the artist uses a mirroring of the interior to explore themes of unheimlich or uncanny as developed by Sigmund Freud. In a smaller work Richter House, O´Kane imagines the colors of a nightime scene and makes a painting from an old black and white photograph of a Neutra house which was seized by the state and destroyed in 1973 to make way for the 210 Foothill Freeway. The same house was owned and takes it´s name from Charles Richter who invented the Richter scale for measuring earthquakes.

The show takes it´s title from the Baum Test, which is also known as the "Tree Test" and is a projective test developed by Swiss psychologist Charles Koch in 1952, six years previous to the Berkley study. It is used extensively across the world as a method of analyzing an individual’s personality and underlying emotional history. Patients are asked to draw a broad-leaved tree on a standard 8.5” x 11” blank sheet of paper. A psychologist or a psychiatrist will then evaluate the different aspects of the tree drawing as well as the individual’s behavior and comments while completing the test. In the exhibition O´Kane has installed a series of acrylic airbrush paintings on paper where he plays with a unique blurring technique as well as mirroring the trees to produce an uncanny quality which references another more well know psychoanalytic tool the Rorschach or ink blot test.

Eamon O’Kane´s multi-disciplinary practice has consistently been drawn to architectural contexts, whether in his ‘Froebel’ installation works that explore environments of play (currently on show at Rochester Art Center in Minnesota), or else in works such as Glass House that presented a scaled model of Philip Johnson’s iconic ‘Glass House’ at California 101, San Francisco in 2010 and in his solo exhibition at The Sheldon Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska in 2013. O’Kane has exhibited widely in exhibitions curated by Dan Cameron, Lynne Cooke, Klaus Ottman, Salah M.Hassan, Jeremy Millar, Angelika Nollert, Yilmaz Dziewior, and others. He has been recipient of The Taylor Art Award, The Tony O'Malley Award, a Fulbright Award, an EV+A open award (Dan Cameron), IMMA residency in Dublin, BSR Scholarship in Rome, CCI residency in Paris, and a Pollock Krasner foundation grant. He has been short-listed for the AIB Prize, PS1 studio fellowship in NYC and the Jerwood Drawing Prize in London. Since 2011, he has been professor of Visual Art and Painting at Bergen Academy of Art and Design, Norway.