If you ever go back and watch any early Sesame Street episodes you’ll notice two things: the wacky characters, and the psychedelic art. The latter seemed impervious to the idea of sharp right angles – be it in commercial ads, album covers, or school textbooks, there seem to be no shortage of lines in motion. Enter Belgian illustrator Ellen Van Engelen, whose work unabashedly recalls this free-flowing era, only occasionally inserting subtle glimpses of modernity – a laptop or cell phone – to distinguish it from her acid-dropping forbearers.
Though much of her thematic focus lies in the simplicity of the seemingly mundane, it’s the Edelmann-like dreamscape in which her characters bask in that drive her illustrations. Whether it’s melting away on a classroom desk, summer love in an open meadow, or a mere telephone conversation, Van Engelen’s art allows the swirls of color, rather than the subject matter, to depict eternal ambition and youthful absurdity.