The first artwork from the Major Arcana Project, which was a handcut collage series i created a few years ago. It was a rather ambitious project inspired by the famous 22 cards of the tarot deck but after making 15 artworks it is still unfinished. Back then i was looking for a way to change my style of doing collage art and escape from the vicious cycle of doing only portraits, using my stained glass technique. I wanted to create a narrative,try to tell a story through my art and so after a lot of thinking i decided that it would be very interesting to find inspiration at the Major Arcana deck. Every card is full of symbols and ideas, some rather obvious but others open to personal interpretation.
General meaning of the card.
The Fool was not the first artwork i made for the series but i will present it first because there is logic and meaning in the order of cards. Actually, this card has no number and no fixed place at the deck. Maybe this is why it became later the Joker in the common playing card deck, this ability to move around freely. The 22 cards symbolize a journey, probably the journey of life and start with The Magician which is the moment of creation or birth and finishe with The World which is the end of the journey, or maybe the end of one cycle. But in my personal interpenetration it is the fist one because it represents the dream, the thoughts and ideas before the action starts that stay with you throughout your journey.
For example when you plan a journey and you dream of the destination and all the cool things you will see and do there, you are in the Fool card. When you embark on this this journey and things start becoming real you are in the Magician card, you feel the excitement and the transitionary moment between sleeping and waking up. Finally when you come back full of new experiences you are in the World card, ready to share with the rest of the people everything that you saw or do in this trip. The little but important detail is that the Fool will accompany you in this journey and you will always compare what you experience with that you dreamed this journey will be. This is why in my opinion this card has no number, it is in the start of everything but stays with you till the end, popping out from time to time as a reminder or a course changer.
Analysis of the symbols.
I kept the basic structure of the card and found an image from Charlie Chaplin movie for my protagonist, my blessed fool. I think it is fitting, i liked the pose and added to him some more contemporary symbols of naive positivity like the Keep calm and carry on shirt and the various pins with the little images of peace eternity etc. The anonymous mask was a nice idea for the faceless protagonist and the little terrarium in the hat a nice way to show the good intentions and rather Utopian high thinking of the Fool. The bag of dollars hanging from the cane is a little but very important detail of the card,the Fool has with him only as much as he can carry. He is a traveller and knows that having too many, will only slow his journey, i l found this idea very interesting and to further emphasize it i put two more bags laying in the ground unattended.
The little dog in the original card plays the role of the companion, the faithful sidekick that questions the protagonist's dreams and warns him of the perils of real life. Like the obvious danger of him falling of the cliff while daydreaming of higher ideas. i replaced the dog with the image of a monkey dressed in a Napoleon costume. I found it more appropriate than the dog and had fun thinking of a background story of the fool releasing him from a circus as a part of his Utopian plan. I liked this image also because with the military costume and stern expression has the role of the protector. It is a fine couple, the dreamer and the realist, the careless and the cautious, the moon and earth.
Apart from the main couple i used various little symbols to further complete the idea of the card. The melting clocks to show that it is a scene where time is not important, the pile of garbage and urban landscape for the antithesis between the dream and reality. A dice for luck which plays a big part in our plans but we keep forgetting it and of course my favourite Monty Pythons as angels watching the events from above.I tried to keep a lighter tone in this card because one more important aspect of it is to visualize the funny and ironic side of life.