The four elements, earth, fire, water and air have long figured in mythology and theology or as natural powers and processes affecting human existence. They have also inspired artists, poets and philosophers through the ages. In recent years I produced several series of works exploring this theme, some in a playful mode and others probing deeper meanings. Current concerns about the preservation of these life sustaining elements indicate their continued importance in our lives. Their ancient role in global religious practices is also therefore to be expected. In Transcendental Elements, with Judeo-Christian references, I pay homage to the Creator and Sustainer of life.

Medieval physiology taught that the body contained four kinds of fluids (or humours) believed to determine the human temperament according to their relevant preponderance. These were linked to the four elements, four seasons and four ages of man!

In 2007 I probed the four ages of man in a series of mixed media works and Melancholia, based on Dürer’s famous etching, is the (self) portrait of an (ageing) artist waiting for inspiration!

I was also intrigued by three other themes often found in European art history resulting in my interpretations of the five senses, perspective and genesis.


Elements Humours Temperaments Seasons Ages of man
Air Blood Sanguine (hopeful, amorous) Spring Youth
Fire Bile / Choler Choleric (irascible, angry) Summer Maturity
Earth Black bile Melancholic (creative, introvert) Autumn Middle age
Water Phlegm Phlegmatic (apathetic, cool) Winter Old age