the inception of escher and hokusai


Like millions of others I recently saw the movie Inception which has a host of references to M C Escher, including staircases which go nowhere and a city (Paris I think) which folds into itself. This began a large circle of tangents (?!) in my mind. First to my own poem about M C Escher:

Home by Escher

having a domicile designed by

Escher was a social advantage

at first-

clamouring journos, paparazzi,

feature articles in

Modern Architecture.

The novelty’s worn off.

in the new millenium

Staircases are a tad passé –

you forget whether you’re

upstairs or downstairs

and walking upside-down’s

hardly practical with a

martini in hand.

The last straw when

floor tiles began transforming

to geese and flying south…

from micromacro 2006

© rob walker

When we were in Tsuwano, Japan in 2008 we stumbled on a small but quite comprehensive museum dedicated to the works of ukiyo-e (woodblock print artist) Katsushita Hokusai (1760 – 1849.) pineinmistjpgIt was here that I learned that Hokusai studied the mathematical basis of his art as seen in his manga (artist’s sketchbook) of Escheresque geometric constructions of birds, fishes and studies of waves which culminated in his famous Great Wave off Kanagawa from the 36 Views of Fuji-san.

Hokusai visited Europe before the Meiji Restoration. Later his work was to influence Monet amongst others. So apparently even in the closed-to-the-outside-world of Shogunate Japan

it wasn’t possible to stem the flow of ideas.


The Great Wave Off Kanagawa,

Japan Ukiyo-e Museum, out of Matsumoto.


And Escher is still inspiring artists and planting ideas in humanity’s mind in the new millennium.



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