Noblet detail, eagle from IIII The Emperor


The Lover Noblet detail, eagle from IIII The Emperor

The most beautiful story of operativity that I can tell refers to an incident which arose from my work of painting cards:

At the time, I was beginning work painting giant versions of the tarot by Nicolas Conver, the celebrated Marseille cardmaker. The canvases measured two and one-half meters by one meter twenty. These are very large formats: the Bateleur, life-sized, measured one meter eighty-two. I had just finished Arcanum VI - The Lover, and as I had planned a family dinner, I installed it at the end of a corridor. There were nineteen of us at table. I had engaged a cook and a waitress. Between the kitchen and the dining room stretched an interminable fifteen-meter corridor with this immense canvas at its end. All went well until the cheese course! Then things broke down: the cheese did not arrive. All hosts can understand that one becomes quickly aggravated when a dish is late and your guests start drinking in front of empty plates! So I rose discreetly, left my guests and went to the kitchen to see what was happening. There I found the waitress crying her eyes out in the arms of the cook, who was not managing to comfort her. I instructed the cook to serve the cheese, and was left alone with a girl soaked in tears.

"Calm down. What’s bothering you?”

Through her apocalyptic sniffles I managed to make out:

"I can’t go there any longer; I can’t go there any longer.”

“Oh, has anyone offended you?

“No, no”, she told me, “It is not that at all. It’s the painting!!!

“The painting doesn’t please you?”

“Yes it does,” she told me, “It is not that at all. When I pass in front of it, images of my lovers come back to me. I saw them all again, even the first one, and that’s what makes me cry!”

With this she burst into a new round of tears, spasms, and sobs. The cook finished serving the meal and my family event proceeded without further incident. It was the first time the waitress had ever seen a tarot. This is operativity. The effect was linked strictly to the image, completely independent of words or explanations. Perhaps it is due to the graphics, but in my opinion it is certainly more related to the colors. Color is a language that our unconscious picks up in a simple glance. The organization of the colors, their mass in relation to one another, and the general form of Conver’s Lover permitted this young woman to do some impressive memory work. She relived the times passed with the men whom she had received in her body. For her, it was a strange, wild therapy.

Tarot de Jean Noblet, table du Bateleur
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