M C Escher's Puzzling Art in Rome

Spring afternoon in Rome
Originally uploaded by Axel Antòn
Quite by accident yesterday I happened on a wonderful M C Escher exhibition at the Auditorium – Parco della Musica. It actually opened back in March as part of the Festival of Mathematics, which is undoubtedly why it slipped my attention. Entitled L’arte del puzzle e il puzzle dell’arte (The art of puzzles and puzzling art) the curator Federico Giudiceandrea has brought together 66 original linocuts, lithographs, etchings, and even watercolours which brilliantly take us through the Dutch artist's entire output and interests, beyond the widely known fantastical and often maddening architectural landscapes.

So much has been written about how these apparently decorative patterns are based upon mathematical concepts of the infinite, yet on seeing the original works I was surprised by just how beautiful they are. I particularly liked The Puddle (1952, lithograph printed from three blocks), Three Worlds (1955, lithograph) and Rippled Surface (1950, linocut) which all seem to have a distinctly Japanese influence. The symmetry drawings on squared paper in pencil and watercolour (Eagles) were also really lovely, as were the colour woodcut prints of tessellated animals, and the large and rather dramatic black and white woodcuts of beetles, ants, serpents and grasshopper.