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Book Review: ‘Carnival of Dreams,’ by Basil Pao

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Like his Surrealist forebear René Magritte, Basil Pao began his artistic career as a graphic designer, creating album and book covers and Monty Python posters in 1970s New York. In the decades since, he’s harnessed his multimedia talents into a solo oeuvre of visually and conceptually surprising photographs and collages: of people, animals, historical sites and landscapes around the world.

“He seems to inhabit many centuries at once,” Pico Iyer writes in CARNIVAL OF DREAMS: Photomontages by Basil Pao (Hong Kong University Press, $60), “which perhaps means simply that he’s the perfect voice of the city that gave him birth, Hong Kong.”

Pao writes that over the years, this body of work morphed from “photographic reinterpretations” of images by Magritte and Terry Gilliam into his own “fantasy dreamscapes.” He quotes Carl Jung: “Dreams are the facts from which we must proceed.”

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