The National Gallery of Victoria has announced next summer’s blockbuster exhibition, and it’s mind-bending.

Between Two Worlds: Escher X Nendo will bring together two very different artistic practices for what the gallery promises will be an immersive, enigmatic experience. More than 160 of Dutch artist MC Escher’s prints and drawings will be presented in an environment designed by Japanese design studio Nendo.

Escher’s work was largely unsung during his lifetime, but now his strange worlds of geometric impossibility are everywhere. His staircases and doorways are stacked atop each other, each adhering to its own personal law of gravity, a sloped aqueduct is flattened into two dimensions, creating a paradoxical loop of flowing water. They seem like dreamscapes, but Escher had an intuitive grasp of real-world mathematics, and it’s their geometric precision that makes these images tick. Assembled from the single-largest collection of Escher’s work, which is at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, the NGV exhibition will be the first major retrospective of the artist’s career, which lasted from 1916 to 1969.

Meanwhile, you might have seen the work of Japanese design studio Nendo in the NGV’s recent Triennial. Each of the 50 chairs displayed in Manga chairs started with the same simple design, twisted into 50 different shapes that each worked as a tribute to the Japanese art of Manga, an illustration technique that expresses movement and emotion with simple lines. This tactic is common in Nendo’s work. The studio uses simple design to apply playfulness in mediums that range from furniture and homewares to art installations.

Like 2015’s huge Ai Weiwei and Andy Warhol show, this exhibition takes two very different artists and plays with all the crossovers and clashes that ensue when they’re brought together. But Escher X Nendo will also be a little different. Nendo’s designs will adopt the form of Escher’s; this is not just two artists being shown alongside each other, it’s a whole new body of work.

There are a few other gems in the rest of the NGV’s spring and summer season. Australian artist Polly Borland has shot portraits of everyone from Nick Cave to the Queen. A series of new and recent works, on display from September 28, will look at the surreal end of her practice. And Britain’s Julian Opie, known for his colourful, minimal prints and sculptures, will take over the gallery with newly commissioned pieces from November 9.

Between Two Worlds: Escher X Nendo will be at NGV International from December 2 to April 7.

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