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David Umemoto about Escher

Last Thursday the new exhibition David Umemoto: Architect of the Impossible opened in Escher in The Palace. David Umemoto is a Canadian sculptor with a background in architecture. His mysterious sculptures of impossible buildings are exhibited side by side with the work of M.C. Escher until 9 February 2020. The printmaker has been an inspiration throughout Umemoto’s career:

‘I was first exposed to Escher’s work about 17-18 years ago. With a team of architects and designers, we were working for the Cirque du Soleil on new conceptual Entertainment-Hospitality projects. The idea was to create a place with a unique architecture where the visitor would “cross the mirror” and experience an out of this world immersive experience. That was before the virtual reality and all the techno-tricks we have now, so it would have been all incorporated in the architecture. Of course, Escher was among the top inspirations.’

David Umemoto, Gateway 2, 2019, Modern Shapes Gallery
M.C. Escher, Porta Maria dell’Ospidale, Ravello (Old Church, Ravello), wood engraving, 1932

‘Most recently, Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) and Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978) were added to my personal list of major influences. I think one important common element that I find inspiring in Escher, Piranesi and Chirico’s works is the distortion of space resulting in abstract or impossible architectures. Of course architecture is also very present in their work, as in mine.’

David Umemoto, Stairway 5, 2019, Modern Shapes Gallery
M.C. Escher, Other World, wood engraving and woodcut in black, reddish brown and green, printed from three blocks, January 1947

‘My process is very iterative and intuitive. I generally have an idea when I start a new piece, but most of the time it ends up totally different from the original thought. I think Escher’s influence is something dormant that was incepted in my subconscious a long time ago, that I mostly forgot about but that is still present and is distilled in my work here and there without me thinking about it.’

David Umemoto, Stairway 12, 2019, Modern Shapes Gallery
M.C. Escher, Relativity, lithograph, July 1953

More Escher today