“Good cannot exist without evil, and if one accepts the notion of God then, on the other hand, one must postulate a devil likewise. This is balance. This duality is my life… [I]t really is very simple: white and black, day and night – the graphic artist lives on these.”M.C. Escher.
Maurits Cornelius Escher was born in Leeuwarden, the youngest son of a hydraulic engineer. He showed talent from an early age and went to study at the Technical School of Art in Haarlem from 1919 to 1922. His early work consisted mainly of Italian inspired landscapes and towns, but he began to experiment with patterns of repeated images while still young. The bulk of his work up until 1937, however, was mainly focused on architecture though paying particular attention to matters of space and perspective.
By the early Forties Escher’s work was becoming progressively more complex. He utilised sophisticated mathematical principles with which to plan his mind-bending images. From 1944 onwards Escher’s work became increasingly Surrealist, with his numerous optical illusions. Some his most famous works include ‘Day and Night’
(1938), ‘House of Stairs’ (1951) and ‘Relativity’ (1953). In his pictures, one is never sure where one should look first. Escher seems to be sending the viewer’s eye on a wild goose chase as one looks for a start and end point to his images, only to be bombarded with an infinite set of possibilities. His fascination is with mirror images and geometrical questions. How far can he twist logic and still present a semblance of reality?
The work of M.C. Escher has baffled audiences for many years. He created illusions that both thrilled the public and challenged at the same time. Mathematicians were fascinated by his techniques. Indeed, a major exhibition of his work took place at the International Mathematical Congress in Amsterdam in 1964. The duality that so interested Escher is evident throughout his most important works, that is his continued exploration of figure against ground, flat patterns versus three-dimensionality and the possibility of depicting the infinite and thus taking art into new realms of visual possibility.