07 August, 2009

The Infinite

(M.C. Escher's "Snakes" (c) 2009 The M.C. Escher Company - the Netherlands. All rights reserved. Used by permission. www.mcescher.com)

After three visits to the Portland Art Museum, I still yearn to return for another sight of M.C. Escher's graphic works exhibition. The above print featured on the show's pamphlet was Escher's last, "Snakes" printed in 1969, and it hangs on the final wall before a stairwell to PNCA at 100. If you plan to go more than once, try walking through the partitioned room backwards by using said stairwell. Escher had many principles of craft and the exploration of non-linearity was certainly one of them. Let us honor his perspective with a likened sojourn.

Upon one visit, an observer had a magnifying glass in hand to see the Dutch master's detailed wood engravings. Revealed is a creator of practiced patience, an artist of spacetime. The exhibition includes examples of printing plates, in-process proofs, and early work from his tutelage as a graphic arts student (those pieces usually tucked away in numerous Private Collections). Entering the favored entrance are Escher's prints for the Book of Genesis, images of The Word. Early landscapes and illustrations of reflection, metamorphoses and the regular division of the plane - the breadth of his craft is done justice throughout PAM's walls.

Beside the video game describing Escher's laws of illusion and a small table of Escher books (with the recommended, in the opinion of this being, Exploring the Infinite: Escher on Escher), a strange but intriguing object awaits the keen observer: a fractal cube. Inside the cube are lights of differing colors, mirrors, and two corners to place one eye, on either side. Like Indra's jeweled net (see the Flower Ornament Scripture in Mahayana Buddhism or His Holiness the Dalai Lama's book The Universe In A Single Atom) your eye is reflected in all other points at the edge of this infinite space, while all spheres within reflect all other spheres. The sobering experience has not left me since my visit - it gives one the perception of the infinite that Escher hoped to create from making known the relativity of all perspectives.

Portland Art Museum is closed Mondays, open at 10 Tuesday through Saturday, 12 on Sunday, and closes at 5 all days except Thursday and Friday - open until 8. Enjoy the work with an appreciation all your own.


My photo
Portland, OR, United States
For the Observatory's Grand Opening