The Art of Illusion
By Donna Letterese
Whether it's traditional magic or a kind of fine art, Vancouver-based illusionist Vitaly Beckman believes that all great art is an illusion of sorts. "Not every song, painting, or illusion is an art - but art can definitely be magic. Those moments come when they can transcend the viewer," Beckman smiles.
Beckman began his love of art and magic early on. At age seven or eight, he and a friend had been watching a magician on television. "I can't recall who it was, but he made a card castle appear on a table after covering it with a magic cloth," Beckman explains. "I wanted to do the same thing. So, I grabbed some alphabet cubes that my friend had, along with a handkerchief."
Beckman's friend lived with his grandmother, who had been right next-door in the kitchen. To accomplish this trick, Beckman pretended not to be aware of her presence. He simply focused on the alphabet cubes, as well as concealing them. As soon as his friend's grandmother walked into the living room, Beckman made a show of having the alphabet cubes magically appear from underneath the handkerchief. "She played along and asked me, 'How did you do that?'" Beckman laughs, "I just said, 'Oh, I invented magic.'" That moment was Beckman's first true step towards his ultimate career as an illusionist.
As a child, Beckman was not only drawn to magic, but also to music and painting. Yet, magic was his true passion: anytime there were illusionists appearing on talk shows, Beckman watched the programs dutifully, recording them on VHS.
At age fourteen, he recalls having watched a David Copperfield special. Copperfield made trains and planes disappear, as well as performing some magic with rubber bands. Curious to know how to do such tricks, Beckman found his own ways of doing some of Copperfield's smaller illusions.
After that, he taught himself how to alter the tricks to fit his own particular brand. His family and friends were impressed. Beckman became driven to fully commit to the work of becoming an advanced illusionist.
In Beckman's own work, illusions make art come to life. He often does this with paintings or photographs, whether it's making an image materialize, or changing the image itself. He has made drawings of yachts and roses appear out of seemingly blank paper, and done other tricks where he removes imagery.
"Sometimes, I'll take a driver's license from a member of the audience," Beckman grins. "I then either make their face disappear, or I change the face to be that of another person - making it impossible for them to drive home."
He loves performing this mischievous trick, as well as the fact that it has never been done before. Even fellow magicians from around the world have come to see these illusions Beckman performs, and they also have no idea of the true secrets behind this unusual form of magic.
Beckman's illusions can be seen on YouTube, from when he did a guest spot on the popular Penn and Teller show Fool Us. He has appeared on a great number of comedy and television programs.
In the future, Beckman is excited to keep working on his illusions while steadily performing. He is excited to have completed a tour with accompanying television ads in Chile.
His latest tour schedule will be taking him all over North America; he hit Seattle and Iowa, and is on to Maine and Oregon, before moving into Illinois and Michigan, and a final return to Vancouver.
"I'm so happy to be able to create something incredible and visual," Beckman beams. "It's all so similar - musicians use sound and vibrations to create something beautiful out of nothing, and visual artists do it with paint and paper. When I draw the line between what is real and what is not onstage, I'm doing the same thing."
To learn more and to see his upcoming tour schedule, please visit Vitaly Beckman's website at www.EveningOfWonders.com.
To watch Vitaly Beckman's appearance on Fool Us, check out www.youtube.com/watch?v=roOkRlwmPos
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