Thomas Woodruff's Solar System
(The Turning Heads)
October 10 - November 15, 2008
Opening Reception October 10, 6-8pm
P·P·O·W Gallery is pleased to present Thomas Woodruff's Solar System (The Turning Heads).Thomas Woodruff is an artist guilty in indulging in visual excesses and entering artistic territory not often traveled by his contemporaries. For this series he has turned his attention to the cosmos and like most of Woodruff's other projects, this one started with a simple idea: to see if the traditional visual parlor trick of the "upside-down head" could be taken to new pictorial heights while conveying emotional depth.
The initial impetus began two years ago when a close friend of Woodruff was diagnosed with early Alzheimer's disease. The friend turned to puzzles to try to keep his mind sharpened, and Woodruff began to create his own puzzles where a character can turn into another by a simple flip. After perfecting the tricky two-sided image strategy, Woodruff decided to structure a project depicting the planets, using Gustav Holst's 1916 orchestral work, The Planets Suite, as inspiration. The planets have been impeccably rendered on black silk velvet and are motorized to turn. These choices are deliberate gestures to challenge our oft-puritanical levels of taste.
Part Art Nouveau, part van art; the paintings are heraldic, totemic, and mandalic. The characters are dressed to kill with ruffs and ribbons, feathers and flames, blossoms and beads. The two-faced nature of the character's situations challenges our visual and emotional perceptions in new ways, while still utilizing a visual vocabulary of optical tricks explored by many artists of all cultures and ages; from the prints of Kuniyoshi and the Joge-e masters of Japan, to witty drawings of Rex Whistler, from the paintings of Arcimboldo to the comics of Gustave Verbeek.
The final painting in the project is of the sun. It is a large tondo that slowly turns. Acrylic gouache on linen heightened with 24-carat gold, the painting has 12 heads with multiple faces both horizontally and vertically, surrounded by anthropomorphic sunflowers, with a burning orb at its center. This dense, ecstatic work recalls the design of a rose window, but fuses Asian, European, and tribal pictorial elements into a crazy yet contemplative whole.
This is Thomas Woodruff's seventh one-person exhibition at P.P.O.W Gallery. He has had over 20 one person exhibitions, and his paintings have been included in museum shows in the United States and internationally. His previous project FREAK PARADE is presently touring nationally and is now at the Herron Gallery in Indianapolis In. The award-winning compendium book of the same title is available from lastgasp.com
Jessica Rohrer, Sweeping the BQE, November 20 - December 23, 2008
Please call 212-647-1044 for additional information or photographic material