M.C. Escher Exhibition at ArtScience Museum

Journey to Infinity: Escher’s World of Wonder

A few days ago I visited M.C. Escher exhibition on another Educators’ Event conducted by ArtScience Museum, Singapore. (The museum has been religious in their effort to extend the wonder of art and science to its beneficiaries – the students).

M.C. Escher has been a household name in art discussions, and as far as my limited knowledge went, I had always known him for his optical illusion art. I am sure we are all quite familiar with some of his work:

Relativity

‘Relativity’ (1953), which reminds me of Doraemon’s gravity paint…

doraemon-gravity-paint

Doraemon’s Gravity Paint’s effect. I love this chapter of Doraemon. Heartwarming ending (OK, different topic)

Some other popular works by Escher:

Penrose Stairs. Popularised by the 2010 movie 'Inception'

‘Ascending and Descending’ (1960), an artistic implementation of the Penrose stairs (one of impossible objects). Popularised by the 2010 movie ‘Inception’, and (I believe) the inspiration of award-winning, graphically-awesome game ‘Monument Valley…

monument-valley

One of Monument Valley mazes

 

The omniscient 'Sky and Water'

‘Sky and Water I’ (1938). You can spot this graphic printed on many places, most likely on a hipster’s tote bag.

‘Day and Night’. A very cool, mindboggling symmetry.

And this one…

Level of Reality

‘Drawing Hands’ (1948)

So yeap, I thought I was quite familiar with his body of work, and I thought I knew what to expect when I went there. But…

Have you heard of people saying that seeing real paintings is such an entirely different experience from seeing the pictures in books or online? Well, it was not until I went to this exhibition that I could really appreciate that saying.

Most of Escher’s works are not so big, and they are framed and hung on the walls of the exhibition space.  I got to stand really close to scrutinize his lines. Close enough to see that the work is done by Escher’s own hands, and at the same time to be mind-blown by the fact that it is looking humanely impossibly perfect. (Take note that these works were produced from around 1910s to 1960s during which no digital enhancement could possibly be done. What kind of sorcery is this? I thought to myself with mouth agape).  This exhibition is also an eye-opener to the potential of traditional printing methods (especially lithography and wood cut) in creating jaw-dropping works.

And there are works that made me feel amazed for the fact they looked very advanced for the time, and can easily pass for something that is done today.

‘Puddle’ (1952). A very unusual subject, feels very contemporary.

And then there is his brilliance in producing works that tickle the mind.

We are all familiar with a simple tessellation (an arrangement of shapes in a repeated pattern without gaps and overlapping) like this:

Your bathroom tile?

However, his works show that the term ‘tesselation’ can mean so much more:

'Horsemen' (1946). How... ?

‘Horsemen’ (1946). How on earth could he think of this?

 

And there are many other awesome works that I will not disclose further here. See them for yourself!

FYI. Like other exhibitions held in the fingers of the museum, this exhibition is divided into a few segments:

  • Early works: Art Nouveau and Nature (Escher was really into nature)
  • Metamorphosis
  • Tesselation
  • Commercial Works
  • Exploring The Infinity
  • Escher Mania (Escher-inspired works, mainly in pop culture)

At the end of the tour, the tour guide asked us which work was our favorite. I paused for a while, thinking, and I replied, “I don’t know, there are so many… (mention a few titles)…”

She asked again, “but which one do you like the most?”

I paused again, only to reply after that, “I really don’t know.”

Hermes, Nobel Prize, Collider Exhibitions at ArtScience Museum

Last week I had a chance to catch a few exhibitions at the ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. They are: Leather Forever by Hermes exhibition, Ideas Changing The World (about the Nobel Prize) and Collider (yep, the Large Haldron Collider built by CERN… if you read Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons before, this thing was a major element in the plot, and it is real…). Anddd… it is free admission for the first two! (check out the museum site for the ticketing and opening periods http://www.marinabaysands.com/museum.html)

I had looked forward to visiting all 3 of them so much, as someone interested in leather, art, science and in general stuff and affairs…

We all know and have heard about Hermes, the household brand of luxury leather bags (as someone who is not really following haute couture, I could even vaguely mention the names of the bags… like Birkin, Kelly…). I kinda had some expectations about the exhibition… lines of its famed bags… some history…

True, it is like that – and so much more. The historytelling is packaged in the 12 rooms that take place in the fingers that lend the museum its famous lotus shape. As we move from one room to another, we transcend to another realm that emphasizes on a particular aspect/ feature/ philosophy of the company, thanks to the thoughtful space design, innovative exhibition design and apt (hint: fun) interactive parts 😆 all these help create an immersive world for the audience who want to get more of the taste of Hermes – the high-rank fashionistas and the fashion noobs alike. True enough, I saw an impeccably stylish female tourist taking pictures of every single bag on display (forgive me for the stereotyping, but this is the first time I saw someone who might rather spend time shopping at Marina Bay Sands being too engrossed with specimens in a museum). And I have enjoyed it myself as well.

Here is a teaser photo from the exhibition. I should not spill the beans too much, as it takes away some of the delight derived from unexpectedly seeing something for the first time😆

A glimpse to the quirkiness of the display

 

The Nobel Prize exhibition showcases the history of the prize and its recipients over the year – the notable ones that we read in the encyclopedias when we were young (Marie Curie, Guglielmo Marconi…), and the relatively less heard or more recent ones (Francis Crick, Sydney Brenner…). I came to admire the vision of Mr Nobel, who included literature and economics as two of the fields to be awarded along side physics, chemistry, medicine and peace-making. Scrolling through the interactive monitor, I also marvelled at how people dedicated their lifetime for a cause, something that has brought significant impact to the world.

nobelswill

The 4-page (real?) Alfred Nobel’s will on display. Standing in front of it, I was overwhelmed with a moment of immediate reverence.

 

Coincidentally, Collider seemed to be like the extension of the Nobel one, as it starts by showing the big figures of the modern physics like Niels Bohr and Schroedinger… (who also received a Nobel Prize each). To put the collider in my own inept words: it is a ring-shaped tunnel in which electrons are accelerated to a very high speed and by doing that, more sub-atomic particles are generated, and then examined. This project has led to the confirmation of the existence of Higgs bosons, or what commonly dubbed by the popular media as ‘the God Particles’ and are believed to be the particles which give mass to matter.

Unlike the first two exhibitions, Collider gives a more toned-down display, purposefully giving a sense of being in its lab in Geneva to the audience. The passageway is recreated like that of the corridor of the office. It’s humanizing one of the massive, pivotal projects in the human history.

collider

Interesting trivia facts found in the notice board of the ‘office’:)

 

It was indeed a good afternoon at the museum:)