IN CHRISTOPHER NOLAN’S INCEPTION, Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) shows Ariadne (Ellen Page) how to build within a dream. They walk up a staircase discussing ‘paradoxical architecture’ and ‘closed loops’. Suddenly, Arthur puts a halting hand across Ariadne stopping her in her tracks. The steps hide an illusion that the swooping camera reveals – a paradox of a loop that perspective creates and can equally destroy. Arthur saves Ariadne from a dangerous drop. This is the unmistakeable influence of MC Escher. His visual imprint is seen throughout Inception, as well as many other movies. When David Bowie is serenading Jennifer Connelly In his inimitably sinister way in Labyrinth, the architecture is Escherian – gravity doesn’t behave and a feeling of bewilderment is created – as in a dream, as in an Escher drawing. Escher has even found his way into the living room of Family Guy and the Simpsons.

Until June 25 the chance to see works such as ‘Ascending and Descending’, ‘Belvedere’ and many other famous works by the great man is here. At the Palacio de Gaviria on Calle del Arenal, 200 plus of the Dutch artist’s most well-known works are on display. Tickets are €12. The exhibition is an afternoon well spent. I found it thought-provoking and fun.

Escher’s style of using two tone relief art, tessellation, mathematical paradox and working from images in his ceaselessly percolating mind, make for some astonishing and surrealistic pieces. Hands that draw themselves, impossible architecture and birds that connect like jigsaw pieces are just some. In essence, Escher peels the onion layers of our sense perception and asks questions of form and function. In doing this he hints at the limits and strengths of our vision. Our senses are frail indeed and it was intriguing and daunting to be confronted with this. His work hints at the surreal, the dreamlike, even the paranormal.

The exhibition, which has just come from a hugely successful residence in Milan, shows how this son of an engineer embarked on a lifetime of curiosity which led him to Spain, including Toledo and Madrid. Escher particularly loved Rome and explored much of Southern Europe observing shapes in nature and incorporating these ideas into his work. The work is arranged in a biographical order so as to show the development of his art.

The display is interactive too and I took a photo in one of the many ‘selfie spots’ that encourage you to think about the artist’s use of perspective and reflection. You can snap yourself inside the reflective sphere that adorns the exhibition Escher poster. I loved it. Much like Andy Warhol, Escher’s work appeals to the serious art lover and is in the popular consciousness too. It was fun and educational. Most likely you’ll recognise a lot of the pieces. The artist’s famous overlapping birds feature on the floor and on the beautiful red walls there are the art works. There’s even a chance to buy an Escher inspired T shirt or dress in the gift shop. All of this is inside Palacio del Marques de Gaviria which is a lovely venue too. I highly recommend you check it out.

The Escher Exhibition is at:
Palacio de Marques de Gaviria, Calle del Arenal. 9
Metro: Sol (L 1, 2, 3)
Exhibition runs until June 25
Tickets are 12 Euros

By Andrew James Ball

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