The very first Rob Gonsalves painting I saw was “The Sea and Ocean.” My eye was first drawn to a scuba diver in the top right. The scene was set as if I was looking up at her and I could see the flickering of the light in the sky through the top of the water. As I looked down and to my left, it merged into a beach scene with mountains. That same sky I saw through the water blended with the actual sky above the sandy beach. I realized he had created the viewer’s perspective of the water to be looking from underneath and on top all at the same time. I had never seen anything like it. I was completely enamored.
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Rob creates, as he likes to call it, surreal realism.
His painting is almost like a beautiful optical illusion. Each work of art flows between two scenes. Rob plays with perspective, color, and texture to trick the human eye.
Starting in one corner may be a library; students doing research surrounded by stacks and stacks of books. Then as your eyes move across the canvas, the shelves and books slowly turn into a cityscape.
At the bottom of one painting entitled, “The Phenomenon of Floating,” a girl is laying down in the grass, gazing up at the stars. As you look up at the night sky, it becomes a view of earth as if you were in outer space looking down while the world sleeps.
When I got to speak with Rob, he told me, “I actually started in architecture. I was always kind of an artist growing up, I just didn’t know it then, it’s not what I called myself.” As with most young artists, Rob received no encouragement or support from his family. They did not want him to become another starving artist, “Art was just something I did.”
“To appease my parents I decided to study architecture. I figured that would satisfy my artistic needs as well as go along with the life my parents wanted for me. However, I worked in architecture for five years and I just didn’t like it. I like more natural, I don’t like the modern architecture. I see a building all metal and square, I don’t like it, it’s not me. I like the classic old style architecture from the 20s and 30s that remind you of nature. I like tall skyscrapers tapering to a point like the shape of trees, stone buildings so you can still see the raw materials.”
It is very apparent a large use of his architectural knowledge is used in his work. He says most often he likes to go from some city scene and merge it into nature bringing it back, making into one.
In “Light Flurries” a beautiful twinkling New York skyline will then flow to a forest glowing at night; while a small boy goes for a hike.
Initially, a car is seen driving on a bridge in “Toward the Horizon.” Looking across, the bridge, towering over a body of water, manages to turn into a fleet of ships; giving a whole new meaning to driving off into the distance.
“The actual painting part is a breeze compared to planning it out,” Rob Gonsalves says. First he needs to come up with an idea. When asked where his inspiration comes from, he could not give a definite answer. He said it comes from everything around him; nature, something he saw, other artists work may have inspired him, a scene in his life he experienced. He only makes about 3-4 paintings a year, “It’s not as easy as it seems,” Rob says. Planning could take months. Sometimes he will have an idea and spend weeks planning, just to realize it will not work. At that point he needs to decide to scrap the whole thing or to set it aside to look at another time. Sometimes paintings and ideas could be set aside for years! Rob will be in love with an idea but just cannot seem to make it happen. “Then all of a sudden, one day I just have it and I can see exactly how to make the transition.”
Entitled “A Riesling and Red Velvet Reception,” the launch event was held at Huckleberry Fine Arts Gallery in Maryland. On the eve of September 26, 2014 Rob Gonsalves introduced his latest painting to be seen for the first time. Fittingly wine and red velvet cupcakes were served as Rob discussed his latest work, “The Sea and Ocean.” Not only is Rob Gonsalves an awe inspiring artist but also his demeanor captures an audience and everything he says becomes entirely fascinating. His other works were on display and available for purchase.
I found “Widow’s Walk II” to be particularly eerie. Starting from the left is a balcony over looking a sea at night. As your eyes move to the right, the space between the columns slowly turns into a ghost of a woman. The last is the most prominent standing next to a man unaware of her presents as he overlooks the sea is well.
Walking around I noticed, other of Rob’s paintings it is almost as if you could turn the painting upside down and have a completely different painting.
Some of Rob’s paintings you get the moment you see them. Then others almost take a second to realize where the transition happens, or that there is another scene entirely. Two people could look at the same painting and initially see two separate scenes. What drew them first? Was it the baker making wedding cakes? Or the scene fit for a musical of a man singing on a rooftop?
I believe this to be a signature of Rob Gonsalves’ art, one painting with the ability to contain a completely different view of the same work, just a different perspective.
Amy DeLaura is the Education Program Coordinator for the World & I Online. She wrote for her school newspaper Mace&Crown while attending Old Dominion University. Her passions are writing, art, food, and her cat.