When I was younger I had a thing for the work of Edward Gorey. It had a strange way of entertaining me I think by making me feel courageous living in the rather dangerous and hopeless world he portrayed.
There was something grim about the seriousness of his lines, always cold, with treacherousness, even desperation but always showing the part we play in creating the dangers of our world.
For Gorey, these harsh realities were not without a certain compelling aesthetic, charm even, and I’d flip the pages of his books engrossed in the emotions those illustrations brought out in me, wondering just how he could instill such humor and bleakness in the truths about life and death (mostly death) and still make me feel good.
Gabriel Pacheco is an illustrator based out of Mexico who, like Gorey, brings a quiet rumination on isolation to the fore. Here he highlights the alienation and underlying sadness that tends to follow us around, not to mention the Gorey-esque peril of our self-made world.
I guess not ironically most of Pacheco’s work was made for children’s books – sinister imagery has been a staple in children’s literature for decades, brought to life in the work of Neil Gaiman and company, Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein and many others, which for me seems appropriate since danger seems to nip at children’s heels every moment of every day. This alarming fact has been made all the more clear by watching my own toddler wobble his way around his world of impending danger.
Perhaps these guys think parents should know that moving through life with blind joy is routinely naive. It may be selfish of me but I actually think mediating the bubbly optimism so prevalent in modern child-rearing with a cautious awareness of a deadly Gorey universe is not only wise, but required.
Pacheco got his start when his sister asked him to help her out illustrating a story she was publishing. He went on to explore his new medium making illustrations for children’s books and volumes of poetry gaining notoriety based solely on his talent.
He has said Hieronymus Bosch and Marc Chagall are among his sources of inspiration but I think he harkens back to Gorey in representing the bleakness within which we all operate on a regular basis.
Take a look at the selection of surreal and beautiful illustrations below. Let me know if you think they deserve to be in children’s books or purely to be taken in by adults who have already been jaded by the alienating strangle of modern society. I mean, haha, the carefree and sublime world in which we live.