...and the Chariot hits the road ...

Pick a Card... Project begins 8th July 2014. 12 weeks to reproduce the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot de Marseille, no frills, no Chagallesque frolics. So that's 2 cards per week. Is it feasible? In contrast to my first "Tarot del Boig" (semi-improvised intuitive oil paintings which took five years' intermittent work), this new set of Major Arcana will be structurally faithful to the most ancient "Tarot de Marseille" (as reference I am using Camoin & Jodorowsky's edition). I am using pen and ink, geometrical tools, crayon, gold ink and gouache on 300g Arches cold-pressed watercolor paper. The details are so precise that I am learning more about the structural symbolism than by reading any book. One of the challenges is indeed not getting lost in the details! It is an exercise in timelessness, a discipline of illustrational patience - and a total pleasure. It's an honor to share them with you. I'll publish the images as they manifest themselves ...
Watch this space, and feel free to share and/or leave constructive feedback!
Keep up with the progress also on this page.
Or even better, visit my atelier in Rivesaltes to see the work going on in real-time !
VII . LE CHARIOT
ink, crayon, gouache on watercolor paper
30 x 15 cm


This was the first card I pulled out of the deck, on the 8th july, in the evening. Perhaps the Tarot was telling me I was on the road, again ! - because, like the last deck of Arcana I painted, I thought I would just do one, Le Mat, and be done with it. But the 21 others followed along, in no particular order, over 5 years. 

This time it's a challenge, and a learning curve - I'm making this set whilst reading Alexandro Jodorowsky , and working with a magnifying glass on the original Tarot de Marseille. I've set myself 12 weeks to accomplish the 22 major arcana - that's 2 a week. Anyway, the Chariot, was a good start I reckon, and I learnt a lot about conjoined ponies and the symbolism of colors themselves ... 

Who's next ?
Arcana Major Revisited : Episode 1

VII • LE CHARIOT

encre de Chine et gouache sur 320g papier aquarelle

30 x 15 cm

 

8-9 juillet 2014

La première lame que je tire de mon jeu de référence, le Tarot de Marseille de Jodorowsky & Camoin, c'est Le Chariot, qui porte le chiffre 7. Une symbolique énergisante, un véhicule, "on the road again" ... Je venais de terminer les toiles de mon premier jeu des 22 Arcana Major, avec la contestation que je n'avais que commencé à comprendre son langage.

Pour s'approprier de chaque lame dans ses multiples angles, Jodorowsky les a portées avec lui partout pendant des jours, une par une. Je décide de les refaire, recopier, reproduire tel un musicien réinterprètera une chanson folk pour l'apprendre. C'est une étude, je m'impose une rigueur sobre ni de rajouter ni d'enlever de détails, contrairement aux envols Chagallesque de mon premier jeu. Chaque lame nécessite entre 15-20 heures de travail, tracer les traits en encre de chine, lavis successifs de peinture gouache et un médium de glacis ... Par la même discipline, je m'apprends la patience de l'illustrateur.

Le Chariot a bien démarré, propice pour les 21 cartes qui m'attendent. J'ai vite rencontré quelques soucis de proportions, révélant une tenace résistance à la symétrie dans la carte d'origine. D'abord, tout semble en équilibre, équi-proportionel - et la distribution des couleurs semble naïf, aléatoire. Mais les clés de ce langage visuel du Tarot sont dans ces détails, les traits, les vides. Les anomalies sont là pour se faire remarquer.

En tant que première carte tirée et exécutée pour ce projet de lecture narrative, Le Chariot sera quelque part le protagoniste qui conduira sur le chemin de l'inconnu, ainsi il s'associe avec Le Mat. Je n'ai pas posé de question spécifique aux cartes par rapport l'ordre de tirage, mais je suppose et j'espère que cela révèlera des cadences de la nature même du Tarot, en se débarrassant du bruit farfelu que l'on impose sur les lames. Je les aperçois comme un miroir du présent, donc peut-être le fait de les mettre face à eux-mêmes créera un mis-en-abîme de symboles à l'infini.

 

XIIII . TEMPERANCE
ink, crayon, gouache on watercolor paper
30 x 15 cm


Picked the card (at "random") on the evening of the 10th july, spent most of the night tracing out the contours in ink. Most of the next day coloring in, correcting disproportions, getting thoroughly lost in the details ... by the evening I was losing objectivity and starting adding my own delirium to the angel's wing, and it got messy. After a good pause, I mostly rectified this, but there are still a few loose knots to tie ... Maybe TEMPERANCE was telling me to be less hasty, and more moderate in the detail ... 

Who's next ? ....

LIRE TOUT L'ARTICLE EN FRANÇAIS ICI 

VI . L'AMOUREUX
15 x 30 cm
ink & gouache on watercolor paper 
14th July 2014


I picked the card on the 12th July.  I remember painting my first "The Lovers" under the preconception that it should look like some kind of Valentine's Day card.  It seems things are more complex than that.  As Jodorowsky points out, there are many "anomalies" in the Tarot de Marseille.  

The card is in truth entitled "LAMOUREUX" without even an apostrophe after the L.  The Lover.  Who are the actors in this story?  What is this intricate game of hands in the lower half of the card?  Is Cupid well-intentioned?  While painting these images as faithfully as possible, I can't say I'm finding the answers to these questions - but I am finding plenty more questions. 

 Whatever the case, with regards to this project, this card arrives after the mobilisation of The Chariot and the moderation of Temperance, perhaps bringing engagement and reminding me that these images exist thanks to Love itself, and should be reproduced with Love ....

Who's next ? ...
VIII . LA JUSTICE
30 x 15 cm
pen, ink & gouache on watercolor paper


The card was picked on 15th July, finished on the 18th in the early hours of the morning.  

It's one of those cards I've always been slightly worried by, even bothered by - the character seems at first glance quite cold and characterless.  This is part of its perfection - its imperfection.  At first one perceives symmetry, equilibrium ... but looking closer, everything is slightly off-set.  In the Tarot, perfect symmetry would be a profanity.  The color-symbolism complements this notion, particularly chez La Justice.  The active parts of the composition are flesh-color, showing the humanity and fallibility of Justice.  The scales are slightly off-balance - perhaps owing to the slight play of fingers in the figure's left hand.

This is the fourth card selected.  To recapitulate (for numerological interest) that gives me, in this order :

1 : 7 -

2 : 14  -

3 : 6  -

4 : 8

My fiancée and collaborator kindly selected the next card, which I am about to begin.  I can only reveal that it has got my head in a spin ...

WHO'S NEXT ?