Davide Tonato is an italian painter, born in Verona in 1959. He has studied and practiced Tarot and Qabbalah since the 1980s, focussing to self-exploration and inner-transformation based on the relationship between symbols and rituals. He published two Tarot decks: Tree of Life Tarot (2002) and Venice Tarot (2005).
After the diploma at the Academy of Fine Arts in Verona he started the career of graphic. In the same time he teached artistic techniques. At the end of 1980’s Tonato left the graphic to following his pictorial and philosophical inspirations. The interest for esoterical symbolism of every culture (ancient and modern) guided him to eclectic realizations, where magic simbols are hidden into the artwork structures.
It is necessary to know that one of the characteristic of Tonato’s work is the attention to technique and material details, according to traditional principles of perspective painting. So, his artworks are “naturally” optical illusions, or trompe l’oeil. This genre, that from the Renaissance and Baroque period has continued to be renovated till today, in the Tonato’s interpretation engage esoterical significations. In this sense, the most important works are “Labyrinths”, a series of great oil on canvas realized with anamorphic principles; but the same prospectic artifice appears in a lot of other recent paintings.
Another important series of the 1980’s is the “Tree of Life Tarot”: 22 oils on wood, based on the qabbalistic Tarot doctrines of the French School (Eliphas Levi, Stanislas De Guaita, Papus, Oswald Wirth, etc.). These paintings were exposed at the Estense Castle of Ferrara during the exhibit “Tarot: Game and Magic at the Estense’s Court” (1987). The deck was published only in 2002, by Lo Scarabeo and Orbis-Fabbri.
Tonato held personal or collective exhibits in other prestigious places, as Visconti Castle in Belgioioso (1988), Ateneo San Basso in Venice (1989), Archaeological Museum in Bologna (1994), Sant’Angelo Castle in Rome (1994), Castle of Gallipoli (1995), Corni-Agazzotti Palace in Modena (2008).
Recently, he realized another Tarot deck: “Venice Tarot” (published by Dal Negro of Treviso), 78 water colour based upon the instructions of Giordano Berti. The Major and Minor Arcana describes Venice’s appeal, with its fabulous landmarks, its Doges and Condottieri, the Artists who helped to make it great, the Crafts that made it bustling and vibrant, the Masks of Commedia dell’Arte, the Poetesses and the Ladies of Court who fired the imagination of Europe’s powerful men, and the diviners, the magicians and the philosophers who had their works printed there.
Some Major and Minor Arcana card can remember the images of some ancient deck (Marseille, Waite-Smith, Wirth, etc.); some other is inspired to a masterpiece of venetian artists (Canaletto, Tintoretto, Veronese, etc.) but this is normal, for an artist wich primary aesthetical references are in the Baroque Art.
As explained by Giulia Orsini, editor of the booklet accompanying the deck, the marvellous Arcana of Venice Tarot can be used as an effective divining tool because every figure evokes concepts, ideas and situations that apply to the daily life of today. Therefore, the 22 Major Arcana, although depicting characters linked to the history of the Republic of Venice, are to be regarded as allegories of human virtues and vices. Likewise, the 56 Minor Arcana are symbol of different human passions, desires, fears, ambitions, emotional stress, etc.
Labirinto delle Trasformazioni (Labyrinth of Transformations), Verona, Grafiche Aurora, 1998
- Tree of Life Tarot, 22 Major Arcana, Lo Scarabeo, Torino, 2002. Without booklet.
- Venice Tarot, 78 Major and Minor Arcana, Dal Negro, Treviso, 2005. Booklet by Berti, Giordano and Giulia Orsini, in italian and english.