Aventuras de Alicia Bajo Tierra
Translation: Modest Solans
Illustrations: Leonor Solans, 2012
“It’s dreamy weather we’re on”
"Last Christmas my dear friend Leonor Solans, an amazing Spanish artist, sent me a gift that evoked treasured memories of golden summer days. She had recreated Alice’s Adventures under Ground in huge, vibrant oil paintings that allow us to witness a girl in her intimate, curiouser and curiouser dreams. These paintings were born last year in celebration of 150 years of our beloved green-cover manuscript dedicated to a single, precious, real Alice by a man who knew how to share wonder and fancy in ever lovelier and lovelier ways, and how to depict a girl in her strength and beauty. Leonor seems to follow his call.
Leonor’s father, Modest Solans, exchanged what became this book with his daughter as a love gift, translating the original story. In turn, her paintings were first presented in an art exhibition, which turned into a video with Tom Waits’ Alice as the landscape waiting for Alice to awaken. Following that, like a dream inside a dream, some of those paintings jumped into this book. It seems alive, inviting in whispers, “Open me, read me, adventure yourself in the dance of my pages.” Like Carroll’s own illustrations to the manuscript, the girl at one precise moment faces us looking into our eyes, which gives the disturbing feeling that she is not just part of someone else’s dream, but is aware that are all dreaming together. Always Alice, always anew, Leonor invites us to recover the unknown and challenge our most cherished dreams.
The art living in the book welcomes Alice in her dive into the potency of life. In the pictures, unique Alices play being themselves, with eager eyes and willing bodies flowing in the textures and colors and rhythms and lights through an enchanted girlhood, forever in flux and becoming. They are not just scenes of the narrative of the story, but living states of magic discoveries. We know that Tenniel’s drawings are too rigid and formal to allow flows of subjectivity, body sensations, subtle feelings, vital experiences. Here these Alices are not just looking to come back home or to catch a rabbit. Her rabbit this time, like some other characters, is just an ink mark, blurred, as if it had turned into its shape through her and our imaginations and figuring minds. The cover, ah! It shows Alice with the caterpillar posed like a question mark, and her wonder wandering turns into the greatest puzzle and never-ending question, as she threads through Carroll’s living dreams and labyrinths, looking for the most beautiful garden even seen.
Knight Letter Volume II Issue 21 Number 91 (Fall 2013);
©2013 The Lewis Carroll Society of North America.