When it comes to work by Miami-based illustrator Gabriel Alcala, you are guaranteed pieces fizzing with colour, paired with an often silly but equally relatable humour. We’re always bowled over by Gabriel’s use of a subtle but brightly vivid narrative, and his latest book published by Corners sees the illustrator’s distinct style reach a colourful new peak.
Titled Suspended Animation, the book folds out multiple times to reveal new storylines conjured up by the illustrator. Each singular piece is inspired by something relatively normal, a fire hydrant, a strawberry or an airplane for instance, tangibly illustrated with a twist. “I like to explore the nature of objects in my drawings,” Gabriel explains of his approach. “For example, I’ll start experimenting with the different qualities of a toothbrush with toothpaste. I’ll become interested in the way the toothpaste sits in a swirl on the bristles. I’ll then start exploring other things that have that same quality, like a coiled snake.”
By pushing an everyday object to surpass its ordinary use, Suspended Animation is a collection of drawings that don’t make a lot of sense, but are just a joy to flick through and titter at. From a skeleton hugging a human, the grim reaper sitting on the loo or a tiny ghost trapped in a jar, Gabriel says that once he realises the “unlikely relationship" between two objects, "it becomes really fun to create the image,” he explains. “The narrative just writes itself after that.”
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