Volver Volver


Imprimir noticia

Exhibition: Escher. The life of shapes

, 18 February 2004

A drawing of a hand that draws another hand drawing… In 1948, Maurits Cornelis Escher drew two intertwined hands that represented infinity, the time that never ends. This is one of the many optical illusions invented by this master of impossible shapes and infinite metamorphoses who, like Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, wished to discover what was behind the looking glass. With a gift for rational, mathematical thought, Escher experimented with space and time over and over again, challenging the traditional models of representation and anticipating many discoveries of digital art. Under the title Escher. The life of shapes, ”la Caixa” Foundation presents in Girona 78 engravings, lithographs and woodcuts of this introverted, yet universal artist. Among these works from the Israel Museum of Jerusalem are some of his best-known: Drawing Hands, Belvedere, House of Stairs and Ascending and descending. The exhibition is divided into four ambits (natures, bodies, spaces and geometries) that show visitors the process that took the artist from the observation and detailed copying of the shapes found in nature to the creation of imaginary, unsettling worlds, based on repetition, variation and symmetry. The showing concludes with the six engravings of the Metamorphosis series, done between 1939 and 1940, among Escher’s most interesting, magnificent works.

The exhibition Escher. The life of shapes, curated by Xavier Antich, can be visited at ”la Caixa” Foundation’s Girona Sala de Exposiciones (Sèquia, 5), from 19 February to 12 April 2004.

Crystallographers, mathematicians, musicians, philosophers, physicians and artists have been fascinated by Escher’s work. His worth can be summed up in the words of Douglas R. Hofstadter, recorded in the book Gödel, Escher, Bach. An eternal golden braid: “The genius of Escher was that he could not only concoct, but actually portray, dozens of half-real, half-mythical worlds, worlds filled with Strange Loops, which he seems to be inviting his viewers to enter.” This exhibition, organized by ”la Caixa” Foundation and the Israel Museum of Jerusalem, invites visitors to dive into a feverish Escherian universe through four areas.

Escher was always interested in natural shapes, especially the simplest ones, such as flowers, (chrysanthemums, sunflowers) or insects (dragonflies). He was also drawn to natural shapes in movement, like waves, which his imagination soon converted into wave-flowers or wave-dunes. Escher meticulously penetrated the mysteries of nature: on one note, he reduced his subjects to their simplest geometric shape; and further, discovered the movement and energy that transforms them and alters their appearance. Through these works, Escher showed that anything, no matter how insignificant, contains a seed of mystery. In other words, it participates in the enigma of metamorphoses. Escher’s contact with nature led him to discover the life of shapes. Everything is geometric, but it is constantly being modified.

Like all artists since the Renaissance, Escher explored his body via self-portraits, turning it into a figure, testing the life of shapes, the misinterpretations of perception. Just like Alice in Wonderland, he stepped into the looking glass to see things –and us– from the other side. In other words, he explored the possible mutation of shapes, the imaginary alchemy of transformed bodies. Through drawings that trick viewers’ perception by depicting the impossible, Escher put corporal shapes into play: he lets the imagination contradict understanding, and fantasy alter memory. If art has always been considered a fictional take on reality, with his drawn bodies Escher pushes the delirium of perception to its absolute limit.

Escher traveled to Italy in the spring of 1922. Captivated by the country, he stayed until 1935. His fascination with the landscapes and architecture led him to return many times. Each spring, he took a two-month trip through the coastal and inland towns, constantly making sketches, studies and drawings. A disciplined artist, he worked his cityscapes so as to offer meticulously precise portrayals; practically “drawn” photographs. Ironically, the hyper-realistic approach caused his drawings to become increasingly surreal, as if absolute fidelity to reality brought about the emergence of hidden features, the result of feverish perception. Finally, Escher discovered the partition of surfaces, the relativity of perspective and the cubic reordering of space. Almost by accident, his works became imbued with infinity through circular, continuous movements. Wonderland eventually transformed all reality.

Escher reached Granada on 17 October 1922, after having traveled through Tarragona, Barcelona, Vic and Madrid. He visited the Alhambra and was instantly overwhelmed by the mosaics and plasterwork, the awe-inspiring geometry of a religious art form that prohibited the use of human and animal images. From that time on, he began to study the vast combinatorial wealth of the shapes that feed infinite variations of a movement that feeds itself. As of 1937, he began to develop interest in symmetry and repetition, the continuity between geometric and living shapes. This meant a practical rediscovery of the Pythagorean principle, according to which everything is a number, everything is geometric shape. From then on, Escher’s graphic works became a continuous investigation. A journey through the structure of space, the structure of surface and the projection of three-dimensional space over a flat surface. The theme is no longer what’s important; it’s the structure, the combinatorial analysis of shapes.

Dutch artist Maurits Cornelis Escher (Leeuwarden, 1898 – Hilversum, 1972) studied architecture and design in Haarlem. In 1922, following a trip to Italy and Spain, he began to craft a highly personal plastic language. Especially attentive to the geometric shapes of things, he filled his sketchbooks with drawings of plants, portraits, landscapes and city centers. Beyond the diversity of objects, he always sought the structures that link all things internally. His international projection began in 1929. After several years’ residence in Italy, in 1935 Escher relocated to Switzerland. The next year, he again returned to Spain. Over his visit to Granada’s la Alhambra, the discovery of the calligraphic and geometric shapes of Islamic art gave his work new energy. From then on, he began to explore the transformations of shapes in others, impossible spaces and complex perspectives. In 1951, articles about Escher were published in several highly influential international journals. These articles were the beginning of a rapid dissemination of Escher’s works in the English-speaking world. They also enjoyed popularity among scientists. Mathematicians, physicists and biologists have seen in Escher’s work the plastic manifestation of some of their theories. Parallel to this, in 1958, Escher began to express his aesthetic discoveries in writing, beginning a theoretical reflection on his own work in which he justified the procedures used, especially regarding the regular division of the plane.

Escher. The life of shapes
19 February to 12 April 2004

Opening: Wednesday 18 February, at 8 pm

Place: ”la Caixa” Foundation’s Sala de Exposiciones
Sèquia, 5
17001 Girona

Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 2 pm and 5 to 9 pm
Sundays and holidays, 11 am to 2 pm

Free admission


Noticias relacionadas