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Exhibition at Gallery of Modern Art

Escher invites us to wonder at his unreal world

Escher 2He was an adopted son of the Sixties pop culture and admired by the surrealists who likened him to the painter Matisse, yet in the pantheon of art movements there are individuals who defy categorisation.

Maurits Escher, a printmaker and graphic designer by trade, became renowned for his other-worldly lithographs and woodcuts; a one-man art movement with a style that marked him out from his contemporaries.

There is no evidence that he ever met Matisse and despite being wooed by the Rolling Stones and by the psychedelia of the hippies he took little notice and confessed to never having heard of Mick Jagger.

The fascinating story and prolific output of this modern Dutch master is told in the first UK exhibition of his work at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. The range and depth of Escher’s work is formidable. Close scrutiny of the exhibits reveals a clinical attention to detail that shows the patience as well as the ingenuity of the man.

Escher’s work combines the methodology of the mathematician, the geometrician and the architect with the elegant skills of an accomplished artist. It also provokes contrasting emotions in the viewer, the darker images set against the warmth and humour in others.

Yet his ‘uniqueness’ is not entirely loan free. He borrowed techniques and styles from fellow countryman and renaissance painter Hieronymus Bosch and he was heavily influenced by the Islamic art found in the tile patterns of moorish buildings in southern Spain.

He adapted his style around these influences and the countries where he lived: Italy, Belgium and finally back in his native Netherlands where he died in 1972.

Escher left a legacy that was both commercial and wonderfully free in its interpretation of fantastic worlds. Not to be missed.

The Amazing World of M C Escher is at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern Two) until 27 September



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