Don’t miss the launch of the stunning, head-turning, “graphic opera” masterpiece, Francis Rothbart!: The Tale of a Fastidious Feral, by acclaimed painter and illustrator Thomas Woodruff! He’ll be joined in conversation by painter and comics artist Keith Mayerson (My American Dream)–admission is free, but do RSVP here (link)!
About the book: Francis Rothbart! follows a feral child who is raised by magpies and other creatures and is repeatedly struck by lightning. Because of the phenomena, the child develops eccentric talents, which he then abuses, leading to his ultimate destruction by the same natural world that once nurtured him.
Written mostly in rhymed verse, Francis’s picaresque saga unfolds in an allegorical environment, much like the topographical constructions behind renaissance religious paintings. Referencing both the Venetian landscapes of Bellini, Pierro di Cosimo and Carpaccio, mixed with the unlikely animated backdrops of Jay Ward and Chuck Jones, Woodruff’s images recall the fictive gardens of a paradise lost that lingers somewhere deep in all our souls, moist and dark like the caves of the pious saints.
Combining both paintings and drawings, each scene is a visual and verbal feast that transports us to a place in which trees anthropomorphize into figures bending from the weight of stalactite crowns, an iris becomes the gown for an oneiric sprite, and the sky rains down tears, as if mimicking the melancholy of a weeping willow. In a muted palette, Woodruff’s carbon and white charcoal pencil drawings bring us ever closer to this mythical ecology. The artist lovingly focuses on every detail: ethereal, fragile blossoms, petals, roots, and leaves; impressively observed wildlife creatures; and each curve of the hand lettered text is rendered by the delicate hand of an illustrative obsessionist with a penchant for the poignant. Woodruff’s images are multi-sourced amalgamations that echo with familiarity, portraying a world that is not only our own but also exists in the place of our half-remembered dreams.