Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Painting from an archetypal perspective

Hope you are all doing well! Here I am again with an update from my studio. Currently I'm working on a series of paintings on panels and triptychs that I call "Neo-Colonial Retablos" for they reflect on past colonial history in the Americas while addressing more contemporary issues in response to Neo-Colonialism. For this I have adopted an archetypal approach for which I am studying the 22 Major Arcanas from the Tarot. After doing some research and already starting this exciting new art project, I am sharing with you some of my insights concerning the study of archetypes in the Arts, Tarot and our present culture.
Arcana 21 (2010) Oil on canvas 18" x 24"
By Patrick McGrath Muñiz
Arcana 21 "The World" from the Tarocco Della Rocca (1821)
The Tarot, a pack of playing cards often used for divination purposes besides serving as an appropriate metaphor for our current global economy based on speculation, provides us with a set of images that refers directly to the notion of archetypes. An archetype is a transcendental model collectively inherent and universally present in all societies, art and cultures. By re-interpreting the imagery from the Tarot on “retablos” with the present Neo-colonial paradigm in mind I am able to paint and address these issues from an archetypal perspective.
El Politico (The Politician) (Les Politicien) Oil and metal leaf on wood 11" x 24"
from the series: "Mcolonial Citizens" By Patrick McGrath Muñiz
Available at Petrus Gallery
The 22 Major Arcana from the Tarot of Marseille (1748)

The Tarot I am using as a model is one of the oldest surviving card packs, the Tarot of Marseille. Most modern decks derive from this one. Even though the Visconti-Sforza from 15th century Italy is the oldest surviving deck,  unfortunately some of its cards are missing. The Tarot of Marseille from 1748 was the first Tarot to be widely used and copied throughout Europe and brought to the Americas.

Madonna de los Misterios (2012) Oil on canvas 30" x 24"
By Patrick McGrath Muñiz

El Loco (The Fool)(Le Mat) (2011) Oil and metal leaf on panel 10.5 x 14.5"
 by Patrick McGrath Muñiz (Private Collection)
The Tarot is composed of 21 Major Arcana plus a card representing "The Fool" and with no number, making them 22 in total. To this one would add the 56 Minor Arcana or court cards making the whole set a total of 78 cards. But for the moment I will concentrate my attention on the 22 major Arcana or Major Archetypes as I like to call them. Carl Gustav Jung was the first to link the Tarot with the idea of archetypes as he saw these images as symbolic images that could be used for other purposes other than divination or entertainment. These images besides being reflections on European culture by the time of the conquest and colonization of the Americas can be seen as an encyclopedia of universal archetypes that are still relevant to this day.
Sanctus Arquetipus (2010) Ink and watercolor on paper 12" x 12"
By Patrick McGrath Muñiz
 The Archetypal Neo-Colonial Wheel (2011-12)
Oil and metal leaf on Panel 28" x 28"
By Patrick McGrath Muñiz (Private Collection)
I have been reading about the history, origins, uses and esoteric value about this enigmatic card game. As an artist, I could not resist the temptation of creating my own cards, which I already started doing. After feeling fascination, confusion, skepticism, disbelief, irreverence now I am starting to understand the multidimensionality of this art. One may consider its polysemic nature as a starting point for a great adventure in the exploration of the universal themes and archetypes that have occupied the human mind. This is what brought me closer to the Tarot and why I’m actively working with it and using as a creative tool.

Divine Inspiration (2010) Egg tempera on Amate paper 23" x 15"
By Patrick McGrath Muñiz (Private Collection)
Hopefully every week I will post a brief article about each particular archetype in question. I hope  some of you out there will discover what I already am discovering myself: the deep significance and value of these mysteries as it greatly enhances our understanding of art, literature,  culture, history, nature, spirituality, and even ourselves. Independently of how one may respond to the occult and divination uses that have made the Tarot famous, the subject is still very interesting to study and see how it can be applied to painting. As with any other subject it is always good to keep an open mind and see how things really work. In my case I am using the Tarot as not only as a creative tool for self-discovery but as means of painting from an archetypal perspective.