By Jan HENNOP
A new exhibition opening in The Hague on Saturday will make the mind-bending works of Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher jump off the page into real life.
It comes as the city where most of his art is kept kicks off a year celebrating 125 years since his birth.
Called “Escher — Other World” the show at the Kunstmuseum combines the works of the Dutch master with architectural installations by Belgian art studio Gijs Van Vaerenbergh that bring Escher’s weird world to life.
There’s a sculpture by the duo with upside-down stairs and doors leading nowhere, reflecting the famous columns and steps depicted in Escher’s 1947 woodcut print “Other World (Another World)” in one hall.
In another, visitors can experience a giant sculpture of a golden Gordian knot, representing the idea of eternity depicted in the knots drawn by Escher.
Elsewhere, visitors can see their reflections distorted by mirrors, representing Escher’s depictions of spheres. And in another room, there is a blue “tessellation maze” made of frames with layers, creating a pattern to the backdrop of Escher’s longest woodcut print “Metamorphosis II”.
“I think you’ll really experience the themes that Escher loved so dearly,” the exhibition’s curator Judith Kadee told AFP.
“You really have sort of a physical three-dimensional experience of what Escher loved so much,” she said.
Kunstmuseum director Benno Tempel described it “as a mesmerising exhibition”.
– ‘New forms of space’ –
The exhibit is divided into two categories that feature in M.C. Escher’s work: day and night.
“DAY”, the first part of the show, is in the museum’s large daylit galleries. “NIGHT”, the second part, exhibits some quirky themes around Escher’s art in its side galleries.
Arnout van Vaerenbergh, who with Pieterjan Gijs forms the art studio Gijs Van Vaerenbergh, said the idea was to “confront visitors with new forms of space and experiment, see how far we can push this”.
Elsewhere in The Hague, visitors will still be able to visit the Escher in the Palace museum, which has a permanent collection of the Dutch master’s work.
But it too has a special exhibition opening Saturday to mark the 125th anniversary of his birth: Escher’s work will hang with that of his friend and mentor Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita, who is credited with having convinced him to switch from architecture to graphic art.
Mesquita himself was deported with his wife and son to the Nazi death camps in 1944, where they perished.
In the coming months, the city is set to be “dressed up” in Escher’s art as part of the anniversary celebrations, which climax on his birthday, June 17.
In the autumn, another exhibit called “Just like Escher” will showcase contemporary artists and designers inspired by Escher’s work.
“Escher – Other World” runs at the Kunstmuseum until September 10.