There’s more to “KVTNO9” than meets the eye.
The former Wicker Park resident’s “KVTNO9” mural at Hubbard Street and Milwaukee Avenue, alongside a slew of other works that cover Hubbard Street’s viaducts, is as intricate as the journey that brought him to painting murals.
After starting at the University of Illinois at Chicago in pre-medicine, Shoykhet left his home of five years to get a master’s degree in acupuncture at Emperor’s College in Santa Monica, Calif., but then decided, “There was just this commitment that I wasn’t ready to make to my future patients.”
So Shoykhet, 30, started a production company with friends, OTG Studios, that was doing “small art installations” and “festivals” until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“As COVID started, all of those production jobs dried up overnight, it seemed like,” Shoykhet says. “I had always dabbled in making my own art but never took it professionally. But since that drop off from that other work, I started taking it more seriously.”
So he focused on creating his own art.
He says his style was inspired by a visit to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, his hometown, where he came across a François Morellet piece titled “Random Distribution of 40,000 Squares Using the Odd and Even Numbers of a Telephone Directory.”
“When you walk in to the room where the piece was presented, it completely draws you in,” Shoykhet says. “This just jumped into my brain, and I was wondering, ‘How can I do this with my own art?’ ”
That got him started in optical art — abstract art that tricks the eye with optical illusions. He says he wants to “continue the lineage” of that style but with his own take on creating motion in each static piece of art.
He started with a simple geometric style inspired by the doodles he filled his notebooks with at school. That evolved into the hypnotic patterns seen in his recent works.
“KVTNO9” is the ninth installment in his “Kinetic Visual Test” or “KVT” series.
He sees his work as an offshoot of computer-generated art.
“It is kind of a formula I’ve developed,” Shoykhet says. “It’s a combination of letting that pattern flow out of me and then applying the process of creating the illusion on top of that.”
He says he hopes his work can inspire change by creating positive stimuli for people trying to figure out: What is this?
“That moment of questioning, I think, is a powerful enough moment to shift that perspective in a human mind,” Shoykhet says. “I’m trying to trigger a small enough perspective shift that hopefully I’ll change someone’s view on something.
“With my art, I want to keep it vague for a reason. I want to create things that people look at, and they take away whatever they take away from it.”