Two Hundred Sixty-Nine

M.C. Escher introduced me to optical illusion in art. I must have been in my mid to late teens when I first encountered Escher’s work, an odd assortment of impossibilities made possible with pen and ink and woodcuts and such. Escher’s graphics, inspired by mathematical relationships.  I remember, quite vividly, looking at his piece entitled ‘Drawing Hands’ and deciding I wanted to replicate the piece. I tried, repeatedly, but never achieved anything like his level of artistic capability. I think I drew some very realistic hands (my own), but they were not life-like. Escher’s hands arose from the page as if they were really emerging, fully formed, from a blank sheet of paper. A later piece, ‘Relativity,’ depicted an impossible architectural scene in which stairs, on completely different planes, played a prominent part. My oldest brother, knowing of my fascination with Escher, bought me a coffee table book of Escher’s works; I suspect my copy of that book is more than forty years old. I still have that book today and occasionally thumb through it, allowing myself to enter the realm of impossibility Escher created. I wonder whether some kid today—the same age now as I was then—is just as fascinated with Escher as was I? Probably. But our perspectives on the world would be quite different.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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