Roger and his father Lionel Penrose collaborated to invent the version of the Penrose Triangle that is also known as the Impossible Tribar. Roger met and corresponded with the artist MC Escher on ideas for tessellations and the formulae behind some of the illusions in his drawings.
When we asked Roger about his own illustrations he said he enjoyed the puzzle of representing complex theories in graphics and making them easier to understand. Roger illustrates in two different forms, a diagrammatic style and in cartoon like images which he uses to try and express abstract concepts in a more engaging simplified way. He sometimes even introduces a perspective to the text he uses in his drawings as an added extra that people don’t usually even notice.
We were inspired to show this exhibition of his illustrations of black holes, time cones, spin theory, tessellations and time/space because formulae and concepts aside the designs are beautiful in themselves and clearly show Roger’s talent as a draftsman. Most of these original drawings were produced by Roger as illustrations to his books on mathematical theories. Many have not been exhibited outside of the reproductions on those pages.
His Surrealist uncle Roland Penrose appreciated the drawings for not just what they show but for their refinement of line that brings us the cross discipline between art and science, and in a truly surreal way finds the marvellous hidden in the everyday.