The Amerigo Folchi Tarot

Amerigo Folchi, 1991

Here is a fun deck by the Italian artist Amerigo Folchi, published in 1991 by Italcards in a limited edition of 3000. Folchi had already created several tarot decks by this time, many of them in honor of historical places or events. His intention here was to design a deck with no commemorative references, one that sprang from his own wild imagination.

The recurring device which he used to tie these cards together are striped garments and handkerchiefs. The amusing scenes that result are all part of the overall impression that Folchi wanted for this deck, namely a deck “rooted in contemporary existence and to its being self-deprecating and irreverent, both important qualities for criticizing and interpreting our present condition.”

The cards below show first his Magician, a dark mysterious figure in the shadows, a small question mark over his face. He holds out a hat from which a rabbit is emerging. This image speaks of the illusions that confront us, and the illusions that our imaginations create - which can be more powerful than concrete reality itself. We find another faceless image in Trump X, a figure holding a Roulette Wheel. Folchi considers this card “the classic stroke of luck” and advises us to take the chance when the advantageous proposal comes our way. The Star is one of the few cards on which I can't find any type of garment. It’s one of my favorite images because of the fiery textures and the star designs he has wrapped around the beautifully sensuous body. The image represents intimate human relationships of all kinds, and the blossoming of nature, ideas, and friendships. Trump XV, the Devil, shows a serpent weaving through a garment which is twisted and tied in a knot. The mythic apple is here, and there is also a bulge beneath the cloth which implies that something else may be hidden there. It may well be a symbol for the greed, secrets and deception that this card is meant to represent.

The minors and court cards grow in personality and emotion the more you look at them. The human-like kerchiefs that star in these scenes appear to be alive as they interact with their props, striking poses for our amusement. I don’t know if there is any divinatory significance to these arrangements but they are wonderful studies in composition. I could envision an art teacher using these pip cards as the basis for a still-life or compositional exercise, letting the students choose some malleable or expressive item that could be variously woven into ten card paintings of a suit of their choice.

I’ll never look at laundry the same way again. You can usually find this deck at
Il Trigono Edizioni, Alida, or R. Somerville of Edinburgh.

Review by Mark Filipas, 12/10/99


Images Copyright ©Amerigo Folchi - Review Copyright ©1999 Mark Filipas

This page is Copyright © 1999 by Michele Jackson