One hundred and thirty four

Drop

1948 by M. C. Escher
M. C. Escher Foundation-Baarn-Holland

Drop is curious. Unlike many of Escher’s other works that present confounding worlds governed by mathematical puzzles that, though confusing, are meticulously correct, Drop is relatively simple. It presents only a leaf, a magnified leaf, one simple structure to take up the entire image. This is a far cry from the twists and turnings of monochrome steps and turrets, inverted birds and the like that usually soar across Escher’s skies, but Drop does not escape Escher’s fantastical approach. Magically ominous it is large and loomingly hyper-real: its veins indenting to create little mounds of plant-like flesh; its edges curling upwards with globular fingers as if from the palm of a hand. In the centre of this palm is the magical drop itself; a glistening globe, flawlessly round, it rests perfectly still in the alcove of the leaf’s centre. Reflective of perhaps a window its surface quality is hauntingly emphasised, and its magnifying powers perfectly clear. We see the veins of the leaf it covers glow through, as if they were injected with an iridescent substance; feeler-like little veins branch off, spreading like oxygen in the alveoli of a lung. It is within the drop that tonal difference is also most dramatic, from a curve of pure darkness to the glinting of the other side; a drop of water that holds all the power of shadow and light in the image. Of course Escher’s monotone palette does encourage a possibly sinister interpretation with its draining of colour, but it also allows the design its deserved impact. Drop is not only simple, but chillingly subtle: a token of a brilliant mind.

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