Photos by G. Art by Thomas Woodruff.
Full disclosure: I am cutting and pasting these next two paragraphs from the press release because their words capture this amazing exhibit in the most succinct way possible. In Thomas Woodruff’s latest body of work, he tackles the four temperaments as well as the painterly figurative genres of portrait, still-life, landscape, and wild life in his variations. Using his highly cross-referenced pictorial mash-up of visual motifs, this series is a celebration of the emotional value of color, the storytelling potential of character and costuming, and a contemporary revision of the enigmatic mysteries of our collective past. He creates his own beasts, including the “quadicorn” and the “batterfly” and weaves threads from animae, steampunk, and body modification culture into these grand, fabulist images as well as his encyclopedic knowledge of art and fashion history.
The Four Temperaments Variations were inspired by the theories of Hippocrates, around 400 BC, when wise men believed everyone’s body and mind were controlled by four different, mysterious, colored fluids: Sanguinic, Choleric, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic. Imbalance or overabundance of the fluids would cause disease or pre-described behaviors. Treatment would usually involve bleeding, cupping, herbs, and emetics. During the Renaissance this theory was revised to include ideas of temperature. In the Age of Reason, aspects of physiognomy were brought into play, and today many pop psychologists and dating services still find the personality traits useful tools for getting along and finding love. “The Four Temperament Variations” by Thomas Woodruff is showing at PPOW in Chelsea (located at 535 West 22nd Street, 3rd Floor) in Manhattan through February 4, 2012.