Illusions are distortions of the senses. They reveal how the brain usually organizes and interprets information, and they are generally shared by all the people who are exposed to the illusion-generating stimulus.
We say stimulus because, unlike hallucinations, an illusion can not occur in the absence of one (stimulus, that is). This makes it a misinterpretation of a true sensation.
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The most common illusions are visual ones, which fits us visual arts folk just fine.
Artists have been using optical illusions to create art since ever. If you think about it, optical illusions are the very essence of visual art. Take the depth of field of classical paintings, for example. It is itself, essentially, a product of the clever use of geometry, to trick the eye (or the brain, to be really precise) into seeing a dimension that is not actually there.
Bringing three dimensionality to paper has always been an obsession of painters, and anamorphosis was the technique they came up with to achieve this effect.
Anamorphosis is a technique, that some say has been used even in cave paintings, that distorts images in such a way that makes it visible or coherent only when viewed with a special device, or from a certain vantage point.
This technique has also been used to create works that mimicked three dimensionality (mostly in nudes, during the 1500’s, when the technique was invented). The ones you are probably most familiar with are the Slant Art of Kurt Wenner and Julian Beever, who do sidewalk paintings, using chalk and the surroundings to blur the lines between art installation and painting.
But we are here to talk about something a little more different.
As Esther Inglis-Arkell writes in this article from io9.com:
“For the most part, anamorphosis is now a novelty in art. There are desk toys and children’s activity books that are made to showcase it. Occasionally though, like Holbein, modern painters will showcase their style and ability to paint perspective.”
Although not a painter, Alessandro Diddi is most definitely an artist, and there is no denying that he has a firm grasp on perspective.
Before we show you some of our favorite drawings of his, let’s get to know a little more about him.
Alessandro lives in Pisa, Italy, which you might know as the town that has the famous Leaning Tower of the same name. He is 43 years old, and he creates marvelous pencil drawings.
He uses pencil, paper, and himself in his works, giving the world some truly masterful works, made all the more impressive by the limited number of tools he employs.
“Although there is no message I’m trying to get across through my drawings, I do think it’s important that people realize it is not necessary to consume a large amount of resources to achieve something interesting.”, the artist said. “All you need is a pencil and something to draw on, and you can create something really magical.”
Let’s see what really magical things Alessandro has to show us.
1. Inside Brick
Using using a keen eye, a plain pencil, and a colored one, Diddi made this great painting that gives the impression that you are seeing into a wall. What is really great about this work is that, although the anamorphosis really adds to it, it does not rely on the method to be good. It would look really good, even if it was just a sketch.
2. Argh! (The Dangers of Drawing 3D)
Same as before, only this time, the 3D effect plays an even more important role. Cutting the paper here and there, and using his own hand as an integral part of the piece, Alessandro pulls off a dynamic and funny painting.
Playing with perspective is paramount in his works, and here it is so plain to see why. Just a little more to the left or to the right, and this drawing would not make much sense.
Here we have two figures, tugging away at the artist’s pencil, making him draw a crooked line.
4. Andrea (My Son)
This is an absolutely beautiful drawing, and a wonderful example of fatherly love. The fact that his son’s tiny hands show up in the picture, catching his name, makes this such heart warming piece. It gives us a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
Do you remember that video for “Take On Me” by AHA? Well, this drawing kind of reminds us of that. It is all in the juxtaposition of what is real (the artist’ hand and pencil) and what is not (the same, only drawn), and the way it is mirrored. Like that scene in the video, when the lead singer invites the love interest into the “sketch world”.
6. Jumping Dolphin
This is a great example of focusing on what is vital. The water from which the dolphin is jumping really isn’t all that detailed. Hardly at all, really. But it does not need to be. You know that everyone will be focusing on the dolphin, itself, the hoop through which it is jumping, and the dolphin’s shadow.
Drawing in this way can often times feel like magic, for the viewer, and here we clearly see why. We have spent some time trying to figure out exactly how Mr. Diddi did this drawing, and we are at a lost. If you have theories, or inside info on how you can do a drawing like this, please let us know.
8. Save Me!
Once again, the artist showcases his skill in creating dynamic scenes.
The two figures do actually seem to be trying to escape the eraser, and it is especially cool to see how Alessandro is an integral part of his own art.
9. My Left Hand
As you have undoubtedly noticed, in Alessandro’s work, the paper is not just the thing on which the art is made on, it is as much a part of the piece, as is the drawing itself. The hand would look good on its own, no doubt about that, but it is the way the fingernails seem to rip the paper that really makes this drawing stand out.
10. Stone Bridge
You could swear this is a paper sculpture. It is a real tour de force in how to use shades and angles to create the illusion of 3D.
11. Guitar Anamorphosis
We love guitars, so of course this piece was going to go on our list.
12. Double Illusion
Channeling M. C. Escher, Alessandro does his own take on the famous “impossible object”, giving it an extra layer of illusion. The shape itself is a bit of a mind-bender, but now there’s also the fact that it is an anamorphic drawing. Try to wrap your head around that.
13. Anamorphic Snake 2.0
Betcha you didn’t notice that half of the pencil is drawn, did you?
14. Anamorphic Snake
Yet another snake, this time showcasing the powers of shading.
15. Ring (Anamorphosis)
If you check out the comments section of this drawing, you will see plenty of people in sheer awe of this piece. Now, after all the cool things we have seen from Alessandro, this one maybe isn’t quite as jaw-dropping, but it is going on our list, exactly because of the reactions it generated on DeviantART.
That wraps up our article on Alessandro Diddi. We loved collecting his works and sharing them with you, so we hope you’re going to share your thoughts on this article, and on Diddi’s work, in the comment section below.
Also, don’t forget to check out more of Diddi’s awesome anamorphic drawings, by clicking the source links we provided, or by checking out his website, here.