With a Smile, a Frown, and a Wink
Independently Published (2020)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (04/2022)
“With a Smile, a Frown, and a Wink,” is a beautifully illustrated hardbound book that features over 80 colorful works from the artist-author Martin Bunis. He created these works while he was in psychoanalysis. There are no written words on the pictures. They appear to be created from a variety of media including crayons, line drawings, oil paintings, digital media, black ink scratch art, and even an etch a sketch (but I could be wrong about that one). Across from each work is a page that notes: “First thought:”, “Second thought:,” and “Further thoughts:”. There is plenty of room for the reader to write in their own thoughts about their perceptions about the images.
At first glance, my eyes were immediately attracted to the colorful cover, and I knew I was in for something unique. The book is a top caliber creation, produced with prime quality paper and is well bound. The pages are glossy with brightly colored images. In addition to being perfect for a coffee table, it is also gift quality.
I found “With a Smile, a Frown, and a Wink,” to be extremely unique in that each time I observe a picture, I seem to notice something new. If this was in an electronic format, I would assume that there was trickery afoot, and the pictures were being slightly altered to create a different reaction every time I look at them. I think it takes some talent for an artist to create this effect. I’ve had others look at the pictures and gotten the same feedback from them. Despite there being a few similarities, it was also interesting to see their perceptions and how they differed from my own. I wish I knew if any of our thoughts were close to what the author was actually thinking! It made me think of the works being like a more complex and colorful Rorschach Inkblot Test.
For the first time in my reviewing experience, I am recommending an artist’s work for a reader’s group. I usually recommend the written stories with unique twists, but this time, I am suggesting “With a Smile, a Frown, and a Wink,” because I think it would be interesting to see others’ reactions to the variety of pictures. Readers will definitely find this book unique and insightful.