For an entire generation, Escher was best known as the author of the cover of Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomiche (1965). He was interpreted as a kind of Piranesi of geometry, a psychology of perception-based, surreal inventor etc. Essentially, he was a graphic designer who found a dimension which had more to do with the story of the page than with painting: from the very first glance his pages look like the natural residents of a surreal 16th century book or – better yet – cryptic wisdom literature from the 17th century. In fact, Escher minimized the technical component of his approach because he worked exclusively on vision. Escher had reached his artistic maturity by the mid-1930s and took on a summation of past and current suggestions. His approach was purely in terms of being seen: codes, convention, rules and conditions that the interpretation of an image has to offer. A master of ambiguous perception and geometric shapes so methodologically sharp that they are lost within themselves, Escher systematically targeted his work to the point of dissolving the very rule: an elusive world emerges from his extremely precise order; a sort of post-logical chaos dominates the ordinary experience. What it all comes down to is that what we love most about his work is the constant estrangement and a certain flair which exists somewhere between paradox and poetry that feeds his abundant repertoire of visual expedients. Essentially, they are none other than visual ploys.
–This text was translated from the original Italian version that appeared on Flamio Gualdoni‘s website and that is here re-published under concession of its author–
L’enigma Escher. Paradossi grafici tra arte e geometria, Palazzo Magnani, Reggio Emilia, until 23 February 2014. Info: www.palazzomagnani.it
(1 cover) Maurits Cornelis Escher, Giorno e notte, 1938, xilography, two colors, 39,3 X 67,8 cm; (2) Maurits Cornelis Escher, Relatività, luglio 1953, litography, 277 x 292