Exploring optical illusions and how artists have translated this through their paintings has always interested me. Two artists who are undoubted masters of this include, for me, M.C.Escher and Bridget Riley, both have fascinated me in my formative years. Escher with his scientific mind explored through patterns and Riley with her powerful talent to make her paintings feel like they are literally vibrating and swirling!
As an artist myself who trained as a scientist and chemical engineer I was fascinated by this type of graphic artist who explored pattern making. Escher said ‘We adore chaos because we love to produce order’; this of course is the mind of an artist breaking down the barriers between art and science, using his scientific mind to create art balancing realism and fantasy though the skills of maths and science.
Woodcuts like ‘Sky & Water’ change before our eyes, once again Escher is creating order from chaos (shame he’s not around now! )
Bridget Riley is another artist from the ‘OpArt Group’, who fascinated me with patterns and illusions. These works give you so much to look at, so much to explore and think about. Riley loved nature, as I do and said ‘For me nature is not landscape, but the dynamism of visual forces, an event rather than an appearance.’ This is what I appreciate about her work, that an artwork becomes an event – these artists create works which move, make you think, excite and intrigue.
So this style of painting helped form my obsession with pattern in art, it is also exciting, fresh, makes one use one’s eyes and mind in a completely new way.
Escher was part of such an important art movement that influenced so many artists, but his view was… ‘There are young people who constantly come to tell me, you too are making Op Art. I haven’t the slightest idea what that is, Op Art –I’ve been doing this for thirty years now.’ I’d have to say properly schooled.