Pablo Dona Shrinks the Whimsy and Wonder of Childhood

Feb 18, 2016 5:56PM

“What time can be more beautiful,” Leo Tolstoy wrote, “than the one in which the finest virtues, innocent cheerfulness, and indefinable longing for love constitute the sole motives of your life?” Nostalgia for this time—childhood—runs through the delightful work of Argentine artist Pablo Dona.

It’s not just because Dona’s work features tiny, action figure–like toys. And it’s not because his work is filled with candy-colored hues and youthful imagery, from marshmallows and rubber ducks to colored pencils and balloons. It’s the sense of whimsy and childlike wonder that Dona captures in his compositions at Now Contemporary Art in Miami.

Some of his works are photographs, while others combine photography and sculpture; all are vibrant and fantastical, putting miniscule humans or animals in unexpected contexts. A tiny rowboat floats in a cereal bowl in True Love (2015); a crowd of swimmers and divers play in a teacup in Sunday (2015); in Migration (2015), miniature polar bears walk over icebergs made of marshmallows.

Dona plays with proportion and scale, catching the viewer off-guard with an invitation to step closer, to examine the details. The keen sense of discovery one feels when peering at these works does indeed feel reminiscent of the freshness and novelty of childhood. And that’s just what Dona intended: an invitation, through artwork, to revisit the past.

“Childhood is a unique and a precious time in the life of a person,” Dona has said. He aims to create a “bridge” to childhood through his work—to “tap into the emotions associated with the simple things in life.” Indeed, with their innocence and magic, Dona’s scenes would be right at home in a children’s book, one that rewards a close read.

Bridget Gleeson


Pablo Dona’s works are on view at Now Contemporary Art, Miami.

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