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Gonsalves was born in Toronto, Ontario. As a young adult he developed an interest in drawing from imagination using various media. By the age of twelve, his awareness of architecture grew as he learned perspective techniques and he began to create his first paintings and renderings of imagined buildings. After an introduction to artists in his thirties Escher, Dalí, and Tanguy, Gonsalves began his first surrealist paintings. The "Magic Realism" approach of Magritte along with the precise perspective illusions of Escher came to be influences in his future work.
In his post college years, Gonsalves worked full-time as an architect, also painting trompe-l'œil 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.
Gonsalves has exhibited at Art Expo New York and Los Angeles, Decor Atlanta and Las Vegas, Fine Art Forum, as well as one-man shows at Discovery Galleries, Ltd., Marcus Ashley Gallery in South Lake Tahoe, Hudson River Art Gallery, Saper Galleries (November 7 to December 31, 2004) and Kaleidoscope Gallery.
In June 2003, Simon & Schuster introduced North America and Canada to "Imagine a Night", Gonsalves' first hardcover book featuring sixteen paintings. Due to the success of "Imagine a Night", Simon & Schuster released a second book, Imagine A Day, in 2004 for which he won the 2005 Governor General's Award in the Children's Literature - Illustration category.
His book Imagine a Place was released in 2008.
Gonsalves is a founder and member in good standing of the Fellowship of the Gourd and the Arrow.
- Mihai, Andrei (February 23, 2015). "The Surreal, Mind-Bending Paintings of Rob Gonsalves". ZME Science. Retrieved February 26, 2015.
- The Magic Realism of Rob Gonsalves at Saper Galleries (sapergalleries.com)
- Rob Gonsalves at Library of Congress Authorities, with 4 catalogue records
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