Tuesday 11 April 2017

Art in Focus 'The Chariot'

'The Chariot' card is all about challenge, control and conquest. Through your strong will, dedication and determination you will be successful and victory will certainly be yours. The challenges which you face will only serve to increase your strength and willpower. 'The Chariot' ultimately pushes you down the path you are already pursuing, there is no room for doubt and the stamina needed is immense. You must commit to your cause with unquestioning dedication, drive and confidence, and then you shall triumph. Ultimately 'The Chariot' is the card of hard control, of ego, confidence, anger and self discipline. The card tells us that it is time to be firm, determined and direct, but all in the correct measures. 

Traditionally the imagery of 'The Chariot' was rather simple and as you might imagine featured exactly that. A chariot, usually horse drawn, and a strong male figure riding the chariot. Many Tarot decks continue this interpretation, often with subtle changes. The Rider-Waite deck maintains the basic principles of the cards imagery, while enhancing it with symbolism such as moons, stars, symbols of alchemy, rejection of civilisation and most notably replaces horses with sphinx. 'The Chariot' is one of the cards that I felts name alone left little room for reinterpretation, so some consideration was required to put my own mark on the imagery of the card. 

When designing my Chariot I wanted to maintain some elements of the traditional imagery of the card, such as including an actual chariot in some way, and quite liked the Roman imagery the word alone evokes, but I also wanted to give the card a quirky twist to make it unusual and different. I feel compared to early Tarot, Rider-Waite did exactly the same thing with this card by adding a lot of deep symbolism to what was originally a quite simple card in its imagery. I decided to deliver my twist through the use of a recurring element in my series; the Crow. Having previously used the image of my favourite bird to deliver messages of wisdom, knowledge and faint mockery, I now decided they could be a symbolic mode of transport (well the engine at least) as well. I liked the thought that rather than having horses like an actual chariot, and the early imagery in Tarot, the concept of being drawn by giant Crows was rather interesting, as they provide the possibility to travel both on land and in the air. This gave the piece the semi-surreal and fantastical atmosphere which I was aiming for. The giant Crows also represent positive and negative, yin and yang, as one of the crows is Albino, creating balance between the pair. I chose to include a Crow in the design of the Chariot itself, suggesting that the figure is not enslaving the Crows, more worshiping and respecting them. Though the Crows are bound to the chariot with a golden harness and rope (which was intended to suggest magic and mystery) the Chariots rider is not holding the harness, it is guarded and entrusted to the chariot itself and its crow mascot.
The Chariot's rider was intended to look vaguely like a Roman solider, with his red cape representing anger, his strong physique representing strength and his golden laurel representing knowledge, however I realised after drawing the piece I had unintentionally made him look vaguely like Jim Morrison, so I quite fittingly now call him 'The Rider on the Storm', which worked out in a strangely apt way. It can be bizarre how these things come together.
I wanted to keep the landscape of the piece quite plain as the main focus was intended to be the Chariot itself, however I did use the sky to increase the sense of the scene being set in a strange, magical place. The sunset and full moon was intended to give the impression that what is being witnessed is important and a momentous moment is just about to occur as The Chariot rides on the storm.

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