I was thrilled to be able to go to the The Amazing World of M.C. Escher at the Dulwich Picture Gallery as this was the first big exhibition his work has had in the UK. Maurits Corneli Escher work is incredible and it has always seemed odd to me how very few people actually know his name. It was shocking to find out that only one of his works was put in the British public collection. Working mostly exclusively as a printmaker and an illustrator, his one man art movement of black and white imagery had little to do with the main groups of modernism.
Initially studying as an architect in Haarlem one of his teachers, Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita, spotted his talent as a printmaker and advised him to consider the graphic arts department. Nevertheless, his study of architecture and its reinvention, was the main focus of majority of his work. In 1922, Escher traveled to Spain, where he visited the Alhambra in Granada. This was a pinnacle moment in Escher’s development as an artist. He started to create copies of the Islamic tiles, the geometric tiles inspired his interest in creating ‘double imagery’. My personal favourite is his Sky and Water I (1938) woodwork, in which he fits the image of a fish and a bird perfectly together, using detail to create depth and only two colours to create the distinction. It amazes me, I find it incredibly difficult to create a pattern that works so perfectly. Its interesting to see he was inspired my geometric shapes to make figurative shapes work in the same way.
During the 1940s, Escher lost both his parents and so, him and the rest of his family moved to the town of Baarn in East of Amsterdam. Like Belgium at the time, it was under Nazi occupation. Escher’s friend and teacher, Sam Jessurun de Mesquita, was arrested and died in Auschwitz. Although Escher made quite a lot of work during the war time period, one of his best known work The Encounter (1994) belongs to these years. After acknowledging this it became the most sinister piece of his work that I had seen. The simple reflection of the harsh discrimination of these years is not easy to avoid.
This is my favourite piece of work by Escher was Ripple, not only because its different to his other works, but finding geometric shapes with in nature with in a ripple looks stunning. I love doing lino print myself and this has really inspired me to explore something different. I think its beautiful.
Another piece I was amazed by was the Smaller and Smaller image as I had never seen anything like this. It was clearly inspired by the Islamic tiles he had seen in Granada. Amazed that this was a wood engraving. The smallest animal still possessing a head and legs is about 2 millimeters in length. Its incredible.