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István Orosz, Guntars Sietiņš. In Escher’s Footsteps Managing Director A100 Gallery Nunzia Perrone Curators Sergio Buoncristiano, Daniel Köster With scientific support of Fiorella Fiore Exhibition outfitting Rebis Arte srls Texts editing Sergio Buoncristiano, Fiorella Fiore, Luca Petrini, Anita Vanaga, Andrea Zizzari Visual & Communication Designer Andrea Episcopo - BRE - Black Room Experiment Dott. Luca Petrini, Dott. Andrea Zizzari, Coordinamento Nunzia Perrone A100 Edizioni, Piazza Alighieri 100, 73013 Galatina (Lecce) Codice ISBN XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX All rights reserved. Any other use is strictly prohibited without the A100 Gallery’s explicit permission.

Piazza Alighieri 100 - Galatina_LE · info. 0836 567491




Sergio Buoncristiano



Fiorella Fiore







Luca Petrini e Andrea Zizzari

Biographical notes

Biographical notes


The great fascination that Maurits Cornelis Escher’s work exerted on the field of art and world culture in the second half of the XX century is peerless if compared to his contemporaries. The happy union between artistic creativity and precise scientific references, the innovative research and the aesthetic beauty of his works has made this Dutch master’s artistic output unique arousing art lovers’, collectors’ and scholars’ fascination and interest. However, if, on the one hand Escher must be considered as a non-classifiable artist – as claimed by Bruno Ernst, one of the most acknowledged experts on this Dutch master – on the other, like any other important, brilliant artist, he has become a reference point for a large number of artists who have drawn inspiration from his research and revised it according to their different sensibilities, a deep connection with the master being understood. Although there is no real Escher school lots of worldwide artists have drawn their inspiration, over the last few decades, from his work, especially from the spirit he evokes. Among the most outstanding artists, besides the two presented in this exhibition, worth mentioning are Oscar Reutersvärd, the father of impossible figures, Victor Vasarely, Hans Kuiper, Robert Fathauer and David Hop, just to name a few of them. Needless to say,


Escher’s artistic production has been far more thoroughly examined in a great many exhibitions, symposia and publications than that of his interpreters, except for a very few cases. This exhibition focuses on the work of István Orosz and Guntars Sietiņš, to be rightfully considered among the very few most prestigious artists linked with Escher. István Orosz’s works are a brief journey through a magic world where sight and mind are often in conflict with each other; where true and false are no longer distinct concepts and fade into an impossible reality, even if perceived as really existing on the surface. The artist writes:…there are things that I can imagine and draw. There are things that I can imagine, but I cannot draw. Anyway, could I draw something that I cannot imagine? This is what really concerns me. His engravings, steeped in archaeology, classical and Renaissance art references, and also rich of quotes to Escher’s universe, are developed in a series of elements which aim at surprising and, sometimes, confusing the observer so as to create a suggestive mental contrast between what is perceived and what is real. This is emphasized by the artist himself through the choice of the pseudonym under which he often signs his compositions - Outis, a word from the ancient Greek which means Nobody, the false

name used by Ulysses to deceive Polyphemus. The Greek hero blinds the giant, and so does Orosz by deceiving our eyes and our common sense. Each single work by the Hungarian master contains this assumption, even if different solutions are the result. For instance, on closer observation the essence of the apparently consistent architectural elements of the work Santo Stefano Rotondo. Paraphrase turns out to be a paradox of statics. In the work My sun, your sun, or in the three magnificent versions of the Library, the artist creates non-decidible, incongruous perspectives, which leave the observer both astonished and puzzled. In Absences IV (Dutch landscape) the element of the preconceived perception expresses itself through the illusionistic vision of a building where, the empty spaces of the doors and windows consists of walls and the building walls are, instead, inexistent. In Dalì and the Holy Family, Mozart, Escher in Italy, and Dürer in the forest, Orosz, - inspired by Arcimboldo’s anthropomorphous still lives and also by the many artists who, subsequently, have made use of this divertissement - creates a perspective trick by hiding and, at the same time, skilfully disclosing famous artists’ faces in both real and coherent environments or scenes. You only need to watch the composition from close up or

else at a certain distance to find a face or a landscape. The anamorphoses are particularly worth taking into consideration. Orosz draws on a really fashionable form of art in XVI and XVII centuries and he makes it up-to-date, “contemporary”. Such a representation – created through a distortion of the perspective which allows the right view by means of the use of a reflecting cylinder only from one angle (resulting different or distorted from other standpoints or without the help of the cylinder) – allows the artist to create masterly compositions which show his great technical talent as well as his being a visionary. In The raven (anamorphic portrait of Edgar Allan Poe) the subject of the portrait is related to literature, of which the artist is a great lover, he himself being a writer and having illustrated a number of books by other authors so that the allusion to the literary anamorphism in Poe’s works becomes absolutely clear. Indeed, in the American writer’s novels, not everything is as it seems, and words are often used as a means to lead the reader to an unexplored land. In The well (Hommage a M.C.Escher) this tribute pervades the entire composition and becomes sublime through the presence of a broken mirror which, strangely enough, takes you down steps that lead to Amalfi, one of Escher’s favou-


rite places. Orosz created this work for the centenary of Escher’s birth as a tribute to him. Guntars Sietiņš’s art is extremely refined and related to the technical means through which it expresses itself. His great skill in creating mezzotint and aquatint engravings – which makes him one of the best artists in the use of these techniques – is reflected in his perfectly balanced works, rich in meticulously manicured details. The mezzotint technique gives the artist a great opportunity to create compositions which require a full range of tones, from the blackest black to the whitest white. Just as it could be for a philosopher or a theologian, who are acute investigators of the relationship between darkness and light, the use of the entire spectrum of tones, which move from darkness to the clearest light, allows the artist to create more deeply introspective works. Therefore, in many of his works the prevalence of black darkness and chaos develops, slowly but inevitably, towards the light which draws the observer’s attention to focus on the centre of his composition. A centre which, over the last few years, has often been occupied by a reflecting sphere. A famous lithography of 1935 by M.C. Escher, evocatively entitled A hand with a reflecting sphere, shows the artist himself holding a reflecting sphere which mirrors both


himself and the room he is in. Meaningfully, as for Sietiņš’s works focused on the reflecting sphere, the entire series Characters, created as from 2007, the artist-observer is not reflected on the sphere. His presence is deduced from the very existence of the work, but is not included in the images of the composition, where the visual focus is something different. The observer can look at the images and what they involve for what they are, mysterious objects which reflect letters, interiors or a barren landscape. In Characters VII. Illusion-reality, the reflecting sphere is placed on concentric circles of letters apparently higgledy-piggledy, but the sphere reflects a landscape and a few letters which form words such as ‘Illusion’ and ‘Reality’. Illusion and reality, a perfect synthesis of the themes conceived by the artist in this series of works. A further reference to a metaphysical reality is present in the works Characters VI. Infinity, Characters IX. ∞ and Characters XIII. ∞ A, where the artist represents the symbol of infinity in relation to the reflecting sphere in different ways, right up to his last works Characters XIX. A and Characters XX. B, where the symbol of double infinity appears suggesting new scenarios in his research. Many of the Latvian master’s works emphasize the artist’s passionate interest in the digital

universe of machines as well as the language which characterizes them. Character strings often appear in his works or they even become, as in Black circle 1 and 2, the subject of the work in a parallel between the perception/expression of the machine and the human being, thus presenting his artistic research in extremely contemporary terms. Sergio Buoncristiano Curator of the exhibition



“It is impossible to fully understand human beings without realizing that mathematics originates from the same source as poetry, that is to say, from the gift of imagination” José Ortega y Gasset Maurits Cornelis Escher jotted down these words in his personal diary in 1950. A quotation which contains the sense of the artist’s poetics, thus combining two universes, that of science and that of art, only different on the surface. In 1924 a trip to the Alhambra Citadel in Granada had already revealed to him the infinite possibilities of expression given by the tiling used by the Arabs to build entire masterpieces. Escher is fascinated by this, and includes in his works of art certain details which create an extraordinary language of images, which are closely connected to the mathematical studies of the plan. However, his most famous works were also undoubtedly influenced by the article written by the mathematician Roger Penrose, published in British Journal of Psychology in 1958, which was focused on the very famous impossible figures subject to a forcing of perspective causing sight deception, and short-circuiting the observer’s rational ability to see things. Besides, Penrose himself was born in an environment extremely close to creative ideas. His grandfather, James


Doyle, was a famous portraitist, and his uncle, Roland, was both a collector and contemporary art historian, a friend of Picasso’s and a frequent visitor of the surrealists. What fascinated Escher about the impossible figures was, above all, the possibility of bridging the gap between perception and reason implied in what is seen in “normality”. A new perspective on reality seen through a mathematical and highly imaginative structure. The result was an extraordinary corpus of works which has made him famous worldwide, and, from the very beginning, has created a real school of followers. István Orosz and Guntars Sietiņš are among these. For both of them engraving is the ideal means of expression for obtaining an interpenetration between different dimensions. István Orosz not only relocates Penrose’s impossible figures in his works, making them become extraordinary heliotypies, but enriches his iconographic vocabulary with details and references, never casual, to the many figures that have interlaced art and science, just like Escher. However, it is worth considering also Albrecht Dürer and in particular Salvador Dalì, an artist who became the friend of many famous scientists who, he said, inspired him far more than literature. Among these, were the two researchers who investigated and found out the DNA

sequence in 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick. The most extraordinary result of the link between art and science appears in Anamorfosi/ Anamorphosis where, thanks to a reflecting surface and a simple play of perspectives, the real, under our very noses, turns into something totally different, and the third dimension reveals itself on a two-dimensional surface. For Guntars Sietiņš the mezzotint technique becomes the most appropriate device (and at the same time also the most difficult) to create concave and convex planes able to multiply visual perceptions. The mirrored sphere, a constant element in both his and Escher’s art – on the mirrored sphere, in fact, the latter portrayed himself many times – gives him the opportunity to deceive the structure of space and create a complex but rational work. Thanks to the mirrored ball the planes multiply and the fourth dimension, normally precluded, can be investigated. Also in this case the highly imaginative universe of mathematics offers new possibilities for artistic expression, especially using the binary language, linked to a new technology which translates signs and concepts into a new code which still reflects on the meaning of infinity and eternal return, but in a completely new way. For both artists the capacity for creating visions, which are able to confirm and at the same time

make the surrounding reality paradoxical, allows them to go beyond the concepts of perspective, in a crescendo which, between geometric figures and the illusions of mirrors, develops the indissoluble link between art and science fully. Thus, István Orosz and Guntars Sietiņš were, each of them in his own way, able to learn the most important lesson from the master, in whose footsteps they follow. That is to say, they challenge the canonical representation of things in relation to our perception of reality, subjecting the eye to an illusion which leaves us astonished in front of (im)possible universes. Fiorella Fiore Art Historian and Critic



Curated by Luca Petrini e Andrea Zizzari

At first sight the connection between psychology and art can appear, in some ways, weird enough to require an explanation or justification. Actually, from our point of view, such an idea has blossomed as a natural consequence of a certain kind of awareness, a sort of “having suddenly realized” that there is a connection. Becoming aware means seeing something that has always been there more clearly – it’s right under our noses, but of which we had never been aware before. From a Gestalt perspective all this can be explained as something that used to be “in the background” and, all of a sudden, has come “into the picture”, taking shape, becoming clear. Therefore, we have just realized how much psychology there is in art, and, at the same time, how much art is included, necessarily, in a high-level psychotherapeutic1 process. As a matter of fact, what is art, if not a bridge between matter and soul? Where does the work of art, as it slowly takes shape, come from if not from the shades of the artist’s soul and his innermost self? And where does the work of art place itself if not in the most mysterious and boundless places in the soul of the observer? This is when the work of art touches us, giving us a specific quality and, somehow, makes an impression on our soul, enriching it with a particular flavour, a particular emotional tone, a particu1


lar experience. In the end, it is our very soul which becomes the ultimate guardian of the work of art. So the work ends up being a thread which connects inner worlds, otherwise separated, unable to express themselves or experience that quality if not through that particular work of art. Consequently, we have realized how impellent and important it is for us to prepare our soul to receive the work of art. In our dominant cultural background, still dazzled by the echoes of the early ‘900s, and devoted to mythicizing rationalism and the “exact” sciences, the “feelings” of human soul have been overwhelmed by the weight of “thought”. We have become cold, bureaucratized and neurotic because of the myth of efficiency, fashion and appearances. Our soul has become a piece of costume jewelry which tends to reproduce thought patterns and behaviour absorbed from advertising spots or static and ready-prepared models. Therefore, due to this degraded state, for most of the public art has become something almost superfluous, an end in itself, destined for a selected and restricted elite of users. It is just from this awareness and the need to let our soul become accessible once again to the breeze which emanates from the work of art that two experimental projects originate: - “A Journey in Sensitization to the Aesthetic Experience” which took place on the A100 Gallery

Here we are referring to humanistic psychotherapies, especially to the Gestalt psychotherapy (PDG) created by Fritz Perls in the '60s and '70s.

premises during the April-June 2016 period; - the “Black Room” included experimentally in the exhibition proposed here. Both these efforts, with peculiarities and different operating modes of intervention, originate from the aim to re-legitimize the distinctive artistic aspect of each one of us, help the work of art to be received in those places in our soul which often remain desolate, inaccessible and unknown to ourselves, as well as stimulate the creative process which characterizes the whole of human nature. This certainly does not mean that we are all artists, but, whether we like it or not, we all have to make up our minds about living in a creative or a reiterative way. In Gestalt psychotherapy creativity represents human beings’ capacity for developing new behaviours to cope with everyday life, thus creating vistas of action that did not belong to one’s own range of possibilities before. However, creativity needs to fill in a gap left empty (like a painter’s canvas), to make a leap into the uncertain field of the “uncreated” in order to develop something which has a meaning for us. Be it a piece of behaviour, a sentence, a gesture, a phase, or a work of art, the creative act needs to venture into the unknown accepting the generating tension implied in shouldering responsibilities, in running a risk, in choosing.

The discouraging alternative is a reassuring automatic form of obedience to pre-established social models or trodden and well-known interior behavioural patterns (not by chance, in Western countries, depression seems to be the plague of the century (!). The behaviour of those who live creatively is never affected by the parameters of right and wrong (as the flickering glance of the submissive person is), but by the parameter of values (ethical, aesthetic and logical) as well as responsibility. It is our desire, therefore, to make sure that the observers will also be able “to go through the exhibition”, letting themselves lose their “balance” just for a while, thanks to an experience, short but significant enough to let an emotion reveal itself to such an extent that it becomes shape, expression, colour – installation. Those who choose to enter the Black Room become willing to venture on a piercing of their very souls and give shape to the experience that comes from all this. Under the guidance of therapists people can enjoy feeling their real, deep emotions, being moved, and creating shapes out of these emotions. Out of the Black Room come aesthetic representations and traces of the souls which have gone right through the exhibition and have left traces behind in the exhibition.



Biographical notes

István Orosz was born in Kecskemét (Hungary) in 1951. He was trained as a graphic designer at the University of Art and Design in Budapest. After graduating in 1975, he began to deal with theater as a set designer and animated films both as director and as a designer. Then his interest turned to advertising graphics and in this context he has realized posters for theater, cinema and art exhibitions, and at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, some posters in political subject. The greatest fame, however, derived from the engraver and illustrator activity. His individual graphic works of art are often related to postmodernism by archaic forms, art historical references, stylistic quotations and playful self-reflection, thanks to the skillful use of visual paradoxes and illusionistic approaches. Themes of the natural sciences, especially of geometry and optics appear in most of his works. He is also concerned with the theories of vision and sight such as the way the beholder’s hypothetical expectations influence the visual and empirical perception of spatial constructions. Some of his works are made with the technique of anamorphosis in which he is an undisputed master and for all these reasons he is considered one of the best prosecutors of the work of Escher. Orosz was professor at University of West Hungary in Sopron, co-founder of D.O.P.P. designer society, and Hungarian Poster Association. He was elected to the Alliance Graphique Internationale and the Hungarian Academy of Arts and Letters. Many exhibitions were dedicated to him at home and abroad, included Italy, and he received numerous awards in several countries for all the activities in which he tested himself. He leads international workshops on various issues related to his art and he’s interested in new media. Utisz (pronounced: Outis, means ‘Nobody’), his pseudonym is used since 1984 and it was also Odyssey’s feigned name in the well-known affair with the Cyclops that ended in the blinding of the monster’s only eye. According to Orosz’s symbolic and ironic name, his art is a kind of attack on the eye.


Istvรกn Orosz

The snail, 2008. Heliogravure, 200 x 130 mm


Babylonian labyrinth, 2012. Heliogravure, 300 x 380 mm


Istvรกn Orosz

The mirror, 1997. Heliogravure, 380 x 280 mm


Velazquez spectaculum, 2002. Heliogravure, 490 x 363 mm


Istvรกn Orosz

Piranesi in Budapest, 1990. Heliogravure, 310 x 340 mm


Library , 2005. Heliogravure, 395 x 270 mm


Istvรกn Orosz

Library III, 2015. Heliogravure, 400 x 290 mm


Staircases (Time sights), 2000. Heliogravure, 400 x 560 mm


Istvรกn Orosz

The terrace (you and me), 2001. Heliogravure, 407 x 486 mm


My sun, your sun, 2001. Heliogravure, 270 x 400 mm


Istvรกn Orosz

Santo Stefano Rotondo paraphrase III, 2000. Heliogravure, 373 x 515 mm


Sphere (Pantheon), 2011. Heliogravure, 316 x 297 mm


Istvรกn Orosz

Absence IV (Dutch landscape), 2004. Heliogravure, 437 x 490 mm


DalĂŹ and the Holy Family, 1987. Heliogravure, 360 x 500 mm


Istvรกn Orosz

Escher in Italy, 1987. Heliogravure, 344 x 500 mm


DĂźrer in the forest, 1987. Heliogravure, 360 x 490 mm



Biographical notes

Guntars Sietiņš was born in Kuldīgā (Latvia) in 1962. After graduation from Riga Secondary School for Applied Arts (1982) he studied at the Department of Graphic Art of the State Academy of Art of the Latvian SSR, graduating in 1988. Sietiņš has been the Head of the Department of Graphic Art of the Latvian Academy of Art since 1999. In his study years Guntars Sietiņš found a liking for the mezzotint technique (from the Italian mezzotinto – halftone), which allows fine tonal shaping, and in which the very lightest area is branded with shadow. The presence of darkness is natural in mezzotint. This particularity both stimulates and influences the content. As a classicizing artist, Sietiņš is interested in constructive clarity, proportions, the relationship of the whole to the part, and of the part to all other elements, in ideal shapes – circle on a plane and sphere in space. It is no surprise that the mirror spheres gradually ousted other objects – like chestnuts, for example – from his figurative repertoire. The mirror sphere combined in itself both a geometric volume and the reflected reality, distorted by the convex surface. Among the effects of the distortion was the disappearance of the artist from the reflective surface, where he certainly would have been found under the rule of photo reality. Most often the mirror sphere reflected the Latvian landscape. Sky, horizon, some trees: a compact, essential view. 2006 marks a turning point in his artistic career. It was an important birthday year for Reinhard Rössler, Saxon printmaking symposium organiser and printer, at whose shop the composition Letters had been made. In his gift print, Guntars Sietiņš made Rössler’s seal shine out from the mirror sphere. The sphere merged with the text, it became logocentric without ceasing to be figurative. This meeting gave new breath to the theme. It was developed in 2007, when poet Ieva Rupenheite was preparing to publish her poetry tome ‘Melnas krelles’ [Black Beads]. She asked Guntars Sietiņš to be the artist of her book. Besides the ‘blackness’ both authors also had ‘beads’, or letters, in common. ‘I re-read the poems several times,’ Sietiņš says, ‘to get the feel of the overall mood. My works are a very free interpretation, influenced by the poetry.’ Ieva Rupenheite’s tome ‘Black Beads’ won an award for Neputns publishing house at the Zelta Abele [Golden Apple-Tree] competition for the best-designed book of the year, organised by the Latvian Publishers’ Association (2008). The prints included in the book have gained critical acclaim at international print exhibitions in Aomori, Japan (2007) and Thessaloniki, Greece (2008). Guntars Sietiņš has held 19 solo exhibitions and participated in over 120 group exhibitions worldwide. Guntars Sietiņš works in public collections - Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga; M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art, Mykolas Žilinskas Art Gallery in Kaunas, Lithuania; Estonian Art Museum in Tallinn; State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Kaliningrad State Art Gallery, Russia; Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts, Russia; The Art Museum in Cluj-Napoca, Romania; Ala Ponzone City Museum in Cremona, Italy. Anita Vanaga


Guntars Sietiņť

Characters IV. Time, 2007. Mezzotint, Aquatint, 400 x 300 mm


Characters VI. Infinity, 2008. Mezzotint, Aquatint, 600 x 900 mm


Guntars Sietiņť

Characters VII. Illusion, reality, 2008. Mezzotint, Aquatint, 600 x 900 mm


Characters VIII. Eclipse, 2009. Mezzotint, Aquatint, 600 x 900 mm


Guntars Sietiņš

Characters IX. ∞, 2011. Mezzotint, Aquatint, 900 x 600 mm


Characters X. Colour Wheel, 2011. Mezzotint, Aquatint, 300 x 400 mm


Guntars Sietiņš

Characters XIII. ∞ A, 2012. Mezzotint, Aquatint, 600 x 900 mm


Fire Wall, 2012. Mezzotint, 180 x 265 mm


Guntars Sietiņš

Characters XIV. Red Colour Wheel, 2013. Mezzotint, Aquatint, 300 x 400 mm


Characters XV. Black and white Wheel, 2013. Mezzotint, Aquatint, 300 x 400 mm


Guntars Sietiņš

Black Circle 1, 2014. Aquatint, 600 x 600 mm Black Circle 2, 2014. Aquatint, 600 x 600 mm


Black Circle 3, 2014. Mezzotint, Aquatint, 265 x 400 mm


Guntars Sietiņš

Characters XVII. ∞ B, 2015. Mezzotint, Aquatint, 260 x 220 mm


Characters XVIII. ∞ C, 2016. Mezzotint, Aquatint, 300 x 570 mm


Guntars Sietiņť

Characters XIX.


A, 2016. Mezzotint, Aquatint, 220 x 260 mm

Characters XX.

B, 2016. Mezzotint, Aquatint, 220 x 260 mm


Piazza Alighieri 100 - Galatina_LE ¡ info. 0836 567491

István Orosz and Guntars Sietins  

In Escher's Footsteps: István Orosz, Guntars Sietins Exhibition in Galatina, 2016.

István Orosz and Guntars Sietins  

In Escher's Footsteps: István Orosz, Guntars Sietins Exhibition in Galatina, 2016.