Tarot Series: The Hermit

Oil on Canvas, 24 x 36, 2014

This is the first completed piece for my series of Tarot cards. Each card features nude male figures, so they will be labelled “homoerotic”. Only a few of the cards are explicitly erotic, and using that term assumes that either I am gay (I am, but you wouldn’t know that if you just saw the painting hanging there) or that the viewer is (and now you’re assuming all viewers of art are male). “Erotic” is also subjective, as not all the models I use are young jocks, and I am interested in exploring other standards of beauty beyond The CW Network Aesthetic. Please excuse the exclusion of females: I wanted to do a series featuring gay men as models, and I was curious what would happen if I turned The High Priestess into a High Priest, and The Empress into The Emperor’s Consort. Symbols fascinate me, and the cards serve the dual purpose of exploring beauty and looking at what symbols might change into with a different context.

It’s possible these cards may someday be used for actual fortune telling, or as a meditation tool, though that would probably mean painting the whole deck, instead of just the 22 “Major Arcana” (those are the fun ones you see in movies). One imagines they would primarily be used for questions about gay romance, but their usage would really only be limited by the practitioner’s tolerance for nudity. Therefore, I shall include possible interpretations for each card in fortune-telling.

In the classic version of The Hermit, our bearded figure holds aloft a lantern. As you can see, I’ve replaced this with a different symbol of illumination – and isolation.There will be very few astrological references in these paintings, but The Hermit is associated with Libra, so you might find my obscure reference to that. Many of my models happen to be clean and sober through a twelve-step program, so I should point out that the card of self-reflection and spiritual retreat is the card of rehab, the fourth step, and the tenth step. This isn’t a card about getting back to nature, or taking a look at society or family from a distance: this is about hearing your own heartbeat. It’s all well and good to say that you march to a different beat, but how will you know the tempo if you don’t listen?

For a reading about romance, I invite you to notice that the pose and the setting suggest that our Hermit can’t get a fucking signal, so perhaps it’s time to set down the social media and dating apps and take a look at yourself. Alternatively, it’s hard not to look at this card as a suggestion to explore masturbation.

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