Piranesi – master of fantasy
Downstairs in the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh, the gallery have drawn together drawings and prints from their collection to stage an absolutely fanstastic exhibition of work by Piranesi which includes his series of invented prisons many of you will already be aware of.
Up close these etchings buzz with life and the marks are surprisingly loose and rough. An exhibition label sugests that many of the etchings were drawn directly onto the plate rather than sketched in detail beforehand. Lines are drawn and redrawn.
On inspection, lines don’t end where they are supposed to and walls carry on straight through adjoining walls with the power of the momentum of the artists arm. Stray marks give a hairy wild feel and a shadowy confusion.
These Carceri d’Invenzione are in sharp contrast to Piranesi’s super sharp architectural drawing elsewhere in the exhibition which is small but to the point.
The carceri are well represented on the Bridgeman Education art library and I often use them when students seem to be expressing pleasure in using hatching. For some students hatching is laborious and painstaking and the effect can be static but some people seem to to take to it and have something of Piranesi’s elan. I often think that these students have a feel of the sculptor about them, as if they are trying to wind the object into existence.
The exhibition is free to get in and runs until 7th October. It is a great opportunity to see this innovative draughtsman at work.