The Marriage of Art and IllusionM.C. Escher Exhibition in Seoul
Written by Sarah Angelina Kim | Published. 2018.04.23 18:19 | Count : 455
[A small activity in the museum © Sarah Angelina Kim]
The most mischievous fraud of all time: Our eyes
On April 4th 2018, Wednesday, the SFS 8th graders had a very unusual math class. The 8th graders were led out of the school, and walked toward the Yonsei University Museum. There was an exhibition of an artist called Maurits Cornelis Escher, or also known as M.C. Escher. He was a Dutch graphic artist. We went there because our upcoming math unit is about Transformation, and M.C. Escher’s artworks were inspired by mathematicians who studied how the human brain transforms the external world inside them. Escher’s artworks are a blend of imagination and mathematics, influencing different fields of studies such as psychology. For example, his artwork “Relativity” (1953) depicts a lot of stairs positioned in different directions. Figures of people are eating, reading, climbing the stairs, watching the view from the porch, carrying foods and buckets. This painting seems not so peculiar yet strange. Only by looking at the painting from a different angle, one will see that the awkwardly positioned stairs seems normal and that instead of going up, they are going down. The law of physics, or more specifically gravity, doesn’t work as we know it in this painting. Escher was skeptic of our vision. This skepticism is shown in his artworks such as “Waterfall” (1961), “Belvedere” (1958), and many more. All of them prove that the logic behind the painting differs, depending on a point of view.

The Hours Near The End
After listening to a short precaution, the guide introduced on who M.C. Escher was and explained some of his artworks to us. Later, we had to watch two videos. The first video talked about Giorgio Arnaldo Escher’s life growing up under the wings of his father. He described how his father was and what he thought about him. The second video was a news report about M.C. Escher’s artwork. It explained the artist’s artwork and also related his paintings to a math concept. After watching the videos, we could play with lizard blocks which resembled the lizard drawing in M.C. Escher’s painting “Reptiles” (1943). By the time all of the students came out, our field trip ended along with our school day.
[A picture of me and Yerin Mannucci outside the Yonsei Museum © Gabrielle Todd]
Luckily, I was able to enjoy the whole exhibition with my best friend, Yerin Mannucci, a Korean-Italian girl, who also agreed on doing an interview about her thoughts and opinions on this exhibition.

Q: What M.C. Escher’s artworks? Which one was your favorite?
A: I liked that his arts were very complicated. You can see that he really put a lot of effort in it. The one with the stairs everywhere, where none side was right, is my favorite artwork from M.C. Escher because it broke me. By breaking me I meant that the complicated genius of Escher’s artwork successfully blew my mind, or should I say reminded me of a important moral lesson.

Q: Escher wanted to tell us that anything that we believe or see must be observed carefully; even then people still need to have doubts. Basically, I believe that his artwork had a crucial message for us. In your opinion, what do you think that message is?
A: I think his message is that we can’t trust our eyes and that reality can be an illusion. That reality is not real, like we have our own perception of reality. For example, in the stair artwork, it shows that we cannot trust our eyes. It shows that sometimes life goes to different directions.


Sarah Angelina Kim
8th Grade
Seoul Foreign School (SFS)

Sarah Angelina Kim  student_reporter@dherald.com

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