Yes, hasten to the North Carolina Museum of Art to see two temporary exhibits on M. C. Escher and Leonardo Da Vinci. The first is one of the most complete exhibitions of Escher’s art and he had a long career. I knew the Escher impossible space ones, but those seemed mundane next to his earlier ones exploring long and deep perspectives. He produced phenomenal art from late teens to his death in 1972 at age 73. Escher was especially inspired by Da Vinci because of their shared passion for geometries and mathematical patternings.
Da Vinci’s work is represented by a wonderful exhibition of the Codex Leister (now owned by Bill Gates and thank you, Bill), his journals, written in mirror writing, that concerned his scientific and engineering efforts to understand and control water, how fossils come to be at the mountaintops, how water which always runs downhill can emerge in mountain springs, how to measure water pressure, and well, I hope you get the idea. Many pages written in a fine delicate hand with very precise drawings mostly on the margins.
In a couple of passages in the Codex Leister da Vinci presents a view that the earth is like a body, the ocean its heart, its rivers the blood vessels, the mountains its bones, the vegetation its flesh. So he knew about Gaia early on in the development of positivistic science; indeed he was one of the creators of science and engineering, both imaginal and practical, even as he was an artist of enormous range and power. Talk about a hero, who first walked the dialectical path between mysticism and positivism showing us the way.
On a wall in the Escher exhibit was a quote from da Vinci in which he discussed how looking at a rock face one can see shapes and objects emerge or listening to chimes one can hear words and melodies. This is from his Art of Painting. And it also fits with the paleolithic cave art in Europe, where the beautiful paintings of animals take advantage of the natural contours of the walls (and who knows, the shadows from the torch or candle).
So hie yourself to the NCMA if you can; it is well worth it. And look for this guy wandering the dialectic.