Thelma Appel, The Fool, 2009
The Fool, from the Journey of the Tarot Series , 2009
This work is part of Thelma Appel's original series of large paintings based upon the Major Arcana of the Tarot Deck, representing archetypes of human experience and characters - from a Kabbalistic perspective. Here, Appel re-imagines the archetypal "FOOL" of the Tarot, arguably one of the most misunderstood images. He is set against a plush, exquisite nightscape - setting about a journey at night and in the dark - but illuminated by the moon, perhaps representing one's imagination. According to Keen.com, "The Fool's impractical clothing, chosen for its fashionable sense, is not the best choice for the mountain road on which he is walking. Everything about this journey seems to be impractical. He is more interested in the flowers and the exhilarating walk than in the possible disastrous fall that may await at the next step. He did not bring a watchdog, he brought a small companion valued for its appearance and yet this is the only thing that seems to be saving him from himself...The Fool remains the most controversial card in the Tarot deck. It is the only card that has a zero on it; the other cards all adhere to the Roman numeral system. The origin of The Fool remains a mystery, with some translations of this card insisting that it is inherently a negative connotation and is more properly labeled "The Idiot." Other research reveals the card's origin as "Troubadour," an inspired aesthete traveling a long distance to entertain at the court of a king in some far off land. There can be no doubt, though about the power of the zero, historically. ....The Fool is a powerful card because its possibilities all start in nothingness and reach into infinity."
Combining her formal background in illustration, abstraction, landscape, figuration, and her interest in mysticism, spirituality and Kabbalah - Appel creates a uniquely original interpretation of the ages old Tarot deck, and is probably one of the only contemporary fine artists to undertake such an ambitious project.
Thelma Appel is an important landscape painter who has been working and teaching for more than five decades. Now nearing 80 years old, her work is being re-discovered by a new generation of collectors and curators. Most recently, she was selected from a roster of over 500 applicants for a solo exhibition called "Landscapes and Cityscapes" at the Chashama Foundation in Manhattan. Appel's work was also featured in the exhibition “Road Trip: America through the Windshield”, at the Brattleboro Museum in Vermont, an exhibition at the Bennington Museum, at the Children's Museum of the Arts in New York City, and on the A & E Television Series "The Way Home." Thelma Appel was born in Tel Aviv Israel and studied art at Central St. Martin’s School of Art & Hornsey College of Art in London before emigrating to the United States, where she settled in Vermont, teaching at Bennington College and Parsons School of Design and exhibiting in museums and galleries throughout the region. Appel became known primarily for her paint-soaked brush strokes on large canvases that sought to recreate the energy, color and immediacy of the landscapes. Like many artists of the era, she was inspired by the Abstract Expressionists, including Helen Frankenthaler and Robert Motherwell whom she met at Bennington College. However, Appel wanted to express her feelings about Nature in a less amorphous and more recognizable way. In a recent documentary interview, Appel explained why she considers herself a Romantic landscape painter: "Not recording mimetically what lay before me, but trying to express the excitement I felt in response to nature by using paint-soaked brush strokes on a large canvas wherein the over-lapping layered strokes of color were metaphors for the contiguities found in nature. My early paintings sought to recreate the energy, color and immediacy of the landscapes...to convey a more raw "painterly" feeling within the image, rather than recording a particular scene or looking on from a distance. " During her time in Vermont, Appel's work was exhibited at The Robert Hull Fleming Museum at the University of Vermont, The Berkshire Museum in North Adams, MA, the University of Pennsylvania Fine Arts Gallery and in solo shows at Bennington College. In 1974 she was awarded a YADDO Fellowship, and in 1975 she founded the Bennington College Summer Painting Workshop, where many distinguished painters of the day, both abstract and representational, were invited to conduct master classes. Among them were Neil Welliver, John Button, Alice Neel, Larry Poons, Friedel Dzubas, Stanley Boxer, Elizabeth Murray and Doug Ohlson. (One of Appel's students during that era, was the renowned gallerist Matthew Marks.) Soon afterward, Appel began showing with the Kornblee Gallery, and later at Fischbach Gallery -- at the time the gallery of record for many renowned artists including Alex Katz. Appel also taught drawing at Parsons in NYC, and painting at Southern Vermont College. This work is part of Thelma Appel's impressive Journey of the Tarot series.
Signed, titled and dated on the verso (back)