The Twilight Zone Between Worlds


“I believe that there is a real magic in life. Sometimes the experience of it can be dependent on one’s point of view. I have come to see the making of art as the search for that point of view where the magic and wonder of life appears not so much as an illusion, but as an essential truth that often gets obscured.” Rob Gonsalves

In A Silent Way / Miles Davis


Robert “Rob” Gonsalves (July 10, 1959 – June 14, 2017) was a Canadian painter of magic realism and surrealism. He produced original works, limited edition prints and illustrations for his own books. His style is like that of Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte and M.C. Escher.

Gonsalves was born in Toronto, Ontario. As a teenager, he was inspired by Progressive Rock album cover art of groups like Genesis, Yes and Gentle Giant. Their fantasy and surrealism sparked his artistic direction. His love of the urban environment and Victorian architecture found its way into his paintings. He studied Architecture at Ryerson Technical University and the Ontario College of Art and Design where he learned how to manipulate perspective which became an important element in the narrative style of his paintings.

In his post college years, Gonsalves worked full-time as an architect, also painting trompe-l’oeil murals and theatre sets. After an enthusiastic response in 1990 at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, Gonsalves devoted himself to painting full-time.

Although Gonsalves’ work is often categorized as surrealistic, it differs because the images are deliberately planned and result from conscious thought. Ideas are largely generated by the external world and involve recognizable human activities, using carefully planned illusionist devices. Gonsalves injects a sense of magic into realistic scenes. As a result, the term “Magic Realism” describes his work accurately. His work is an attempt to represent human beings’ desire to believe the impossible, to be open to possibility. 

With the intrigue of an M.C. Escher drawing and the richness of a Chris Van Allsburg painting, renowned Canadian artist Rob Gonsalves depicts that time between sleep and wakefulness, creating a breathtaking, visual exploration of imagination and possibility that encourages us to think past the boundaries of everyday life, and see the possibilities beyond.   

His imagery invites the viewer to move past reality into a somewhat surreal depiction of what fantasy and imagination could be.  In each of his paintings, what appears to be becomes something else.  The supports of a train bridge become acrobats balanced on shoulders.  A stately home in autumn is also a tree house being constructed by children.  A child playing with a toy train sees a real train coming through the archway in his living room.  Children bouncing on beds take off in flight above a patchwork landscape.  A violinist sitting on a porch plays music to tall sunflowers which, on closer look become leafy people whose faces are in a sleepy trance.  

Aboreal Office
“I enjoy painting images that make a connection between the human-built environment and what occurs in nature, and this was the starting point for developing an image that expresses my affinity for what are thought of as mutually exclusive places. One of the characteristics that forests and large cities share in common, that I particularly like, is a dense collection of monumentally high structures.” Gonsalves
Union of Sea and Sky
“(The diver) is someone who is fascinated by the sky. By the air, the clouds, the moon. On this night, he feels like he needs to soar through the air, joining the motion of the clouds as they breezily swim by. He finds the highest rock that he dares to jump from, and dives. Although he can’t see below the surface of the water and what might await him there, he knows he must trust it to provide a safe landing to his short flight.  By committing to entering the watery world of the sea, he is enabled to fully experience the euphoric joy available to him in his own celestial world.”Gonsalves
Night Lights
“Night Lights is the fusion of two separate realities coexisting seamlessly as one. The bottom of the painting opens to a quiet lake surrounded by trees. Your eyes are carried up past the treetops and land on the brightly lit cluster of stars, and this is where the magic takes shape. The view of looking up to the stars has flipped to looking down at Earth as if from a satellite with the stars transforming into the luminous cities of Europe.” Gonsalves


Explore the work of Rob Gonsalves

Books by Gonsalves on Amazon

Rob’s FaceBook Page Containing Many Paintings

Short video on Rob

23 Mind Bending Paintings of Rob

3 thoughts on “The Twilight Zone Between Worlds

  1. Great imagination! I particularly like the one where trees grow into giant skyscraping buildings. For some reason, it reminds me of a housing development on southside of US 33 just northwest of Dublin. One day not so long ago, this area was literally a “corn field”, but almost overnight, acres of tract houses sprung up like weeds. Now I call this onetime “corn field” a “house field”. I sorta liked the corn field.

  2. Thank you so much, John!

    Rob Gonsalves is totally new to me!
    I’m a huge Escher, Dali, surrealist, magical realism fan.
    What a shame he’s passed before his time.
    I literally just bought all his books, I was so moved by his art.
    Thank you for sharing his art with us.
    What a divine discovery! THANK YOU!

    1. Glad you found Gonsalves interesting Heather. I certainly did and he was new to me also. I’ve ordered a Gonsalves T-shirt and print. Yes, a shame he has passed away before his time.

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