The Dulwich Gallery presents a major new exhibition of work by an artist who is barely known in the UK – but judging by this display, M.C. Escher is a name that deserves to be better known. 

Escher_Relativity 1953
M.C. Escher, Relativity, July 1953, Lithograph, 29.1 x 29.4 cm, Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, The Netherlands. © 2015 The M.C. Escher Company-The Netherlands.

What does the name Maurits Cornelis Escher mean to you? If you live in Britain perhaps it doesn’t ring many or any bells at all. But thanks to this compact and intense exhibition that has arrived at the Dulwich Picture Gallery following its run at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, visitors are given their best chance to see and understand this underrated artist’s work.

Born in 1898 in Leeuwarden in The Netherlands, M.C. Escher was originally set on a career as an architect. But his talent was spotted by  teacher Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita, a tutor in the graphics department and convinced him to transfer into the graphics department.

From then on, Escher’s skills as an artist developed and as this exhibition shows, his willingness to experiment and yet remain faithful to the way in which he drew and carried out prints, proves that he was sharp and constantly paid close attention to detail.

Although as each work selected for the exhibition shows that travel was a major influence on his work and adds to the sense of adventure and excitement that anyone looks at his work feels, each piece feels very individual and there doesn’t seem to have been any particular theme to his work.

His fascination for patterns and for repetitiveness comes through strongly constantly in the exhibition from pieces such as Paradise and Plane Filling I are just two examples of which can be found in this display.

Although he is an artist that is extremely difficult to put into a particular category (not quite a graphic artist but not quite a surrealist either), his work is no less fascinating to look at because of it. There are many pieces that are will amaze visitors such as Hand with Reflecting Sphere (self-portrait in Spherical Mirror) and Three Worlds that will certainly make you look twice and wonder how the artist was able to create such effects.

But despite this, it feels as though the exhibition needs a bit more room to breathe and express itself properly and let the work on display talk more for itself. That being said, it is interesting reading the information relating to each individual picture, showing as much attention to detail as the piece itself.

While on looking at some of the drawings on display you might feel as though you are part of a bizarre and different world, yet oddly it all makes sense. There are glimmers of the architect that he could have been and we get a sense of that through the preciseness of his drawing and the high level of detail involved in all of his work, even during the early stages of his career and particularly in drawings such as San Gimignano and South Italian Landscape showcase this well.

The strength of the drawings and the depth of the research that has clearly gone into the making of the exhibition is of huge credit to everyone involved with the making of the exhibition and definitely proves that the work of Escher needs and deserves to be seen more often.

The Amazing World of M.C. Escher opens at the Dulwich picture Gallery on the 14th October and will be on display until the 17th January 2016. 


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