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Imagine a World: 11/19/16
Imagine a World by Rob Gonsalves is the fourth of the Imagine a... series of picture books. I stumbled upon this volume after looking up the previous books to show to my son. We have been enjoying the Winter 2016 anime series, Flip Flappers which references surreal art in its background design. The yard and park around the school remind me of Gonsalves's work.
Imagine my surprise when I saw he had a new book out after ten years! That it happened to come out last year before I started actively tracking new releases was a bit of a disappointment (on my part).
The one missing element from the book are the words of Sarah Thompson. In the first three, Gonsalves's paintings were used as illustrations for her poetry. Now we have the artist's words presented in a format similar to her poetry. On the one hand, the book lacks the poetic punch of the earlier ones, on the other, the paintings feel like a more coherent presentation.
In form, Gonsalves's paintings are like M. C. Escher's tessellations. Except Gonsalves takes the concept back into the real world. He sets two realistic and related situations at opposite ends of his work and then through the actions of his characters and through the tessellation to move from one world to the other.
Take for instance the cover, which is repeated in the middle of the book. It goes with the caption: "Imagine a world... where patience, practice, and balanced steps make you a master of walking on air." At first glance it shows a line of children pretending to tight rope walk on ropes tied between the lampposts along the edge of a lake path. The path is paved with red brick. But in the foreground, the child in the blue jacket and jeans is expertly tight rope walking over a red roofed European village — one that brings to mind the work of (albeit it a more upbeat version) of Caravaggio's surreal cityscapes).
The book is a delightful addition to the series. I suppose next will be Imagine a Universe or similar, should the series continue.