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Art Photobook Reviews

Chrysalises by Guillaume Tomasi

Updated: Sep 1, 2020


“a moment of sudden insight or understanding.” There are times in everyone’s lives when there is a moment of clarity.  A whisper or a thunderclap, it doesn’t matter. They come unannounced, welcomed or not.  Too often they will happen and change nothing, lingering in the subconscious waiting to say “I told you so” when the time is right. 

But for some change is effected, and worlds will rock.  Lives, like a dammed river will be diverted. Small doors will close and vast curtains rise on new beginnings. For a few, ambitions will be charged and empires will emerge. For others the foot may be taken off the gas, and the blur that has so far been a life, will slow to a pace where each moment glimpsed becomes a Monet or a Degas.  Where every meal becomes a banquet, which exquisitely tastes of each ingredient, rather than the accepted, blended grey - nothing more than fuel to get you to the next stop.

Chrysalis “a transitional state” “Where did the butterflies go?”  This simple question from a son to his father during a sleepless fever filled night was to be the catalyst for a project which examined those moments of clarity. 

Tomasi’s realisation that at some point his child would emerge from his own cocoon, and take on the world on his own terms.  Invincible and unstoppable, a multicoloured winged master of his own destiny, omnipotent and all knowing.  Until maybe some years in the future when the son is a father, and on another sleepless fever filled night of his own..... Obsessed by the revelatory experience, Tomasi mailed sixty letters randomly to households on the island of Montreal posing the question  “What happened in your life that changed your world perception?” The replies became the foundation of Chrysalises.

Tucked quietly away at the back of the book, a small pink booklet attached to the fixed endpaper imparts a selection of the replies. Shocking, heartbreaking or heartwarming they are all rudders that influenced the lives of the authors for better or worse.

Tomasi’s Chrysalises are a succession of gentle moments, his interpretations. Each captured moment, a blink that may, in turn lead to a rocking of the world. A church shrouded in the soft mist of an early morning.

A person’s shadow cast across a lawn. White pinpricks of daisies dancing in It’s head. The light in the dark.

A paper plane, crashed and yet gently embraced by the warmth of the green that is its resting place.

The back seat of a car covered in the broken glass of a smashed window.

As with all profound and revelatory moments their genesis is often quiet and imperceptible.....after all, “a butterfly flaps it’s wings.....”

We can’t control destiny, it is both arrogance and naivety of the highest order to believe we can. We can only watch, listen and react.  In that respect we are masters of our own destiny, but to ignore the signs and steadfastly carry on? Well don’t be too surprised if at some point you hear that little voice saying “I told you so”.

Maybe in this respect, Chrysalises is more of a guide book.

Chrysalises is self published in an edition of 250 copies.

Available at


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