Urbis

Books

MADAME SONIA DELAUNAY: A POP-UP BOOK

by Gérard Lo Monaco, Tate Publishing, $42

The pervasiveness of childhood objects for adults has been remarkable in recent years. Take, for instance, the sales of adult colouring books, which skyrocketed in 2015, the steady popularity of video games, the avalanche of work commuters on e-scooters and the surplus of onesie pyjamas for comfort-inclined gentlemen and gentlewomen. Therapeutic ends aside, their new-fangled success can be traced back to one essential truth; they’re fun. Argentinian paper expert Gérard, which joined the aptly named ‘Peter Pan market’ the same year that adult colouring books began selling out, has this quality in abundance. This is partly because Lo Monaco’s gouache illustrations are bold, not least for their attempt to mirror the abstract works of a pioneering figure in the 20th-century Parisian avant-garde. With them, he recreates that indefinable energy that pervades much of Sonia Delaunay’s oeuvre. It is also partly a curious effect of the book’s basic structure, where two-dimensional artworks are transposed into the three-dimensional realm. The pictures become more real, in a slow, cumulative way because, when they combine with the book’s Seussian, rhythmic verse, they open up to other interpretations. Are they dancing colours or planets in orbit, jostling shapes or the plains of a savannah? It’s not Pan’s Neverland but it is a world that is deliciously imaginative.

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