Saturday, March 30, 2013

It's Rothko's Fault.

There's Rembrandt and Van Gogh, Monet and Vermeer, the often usual suspects whose names are echoed as those who inspire one to paint. It's a given, they are the superstars and a Van Gogh painting seen in the flesh will send shivers down your spine (more about that in a future post), then there is Mark Rothko. His 45 year painting career revolutionized abstract art with color formations that draw the observer deep down into a place that appears filled with light. Big, bold blocks of saturated color bleeding out to the edges and back again like a heartbeat. More than brush strokes on canvas they are a life laid bare. They demand attention.
He was a man of contradictions who never considered himself an abstract artist nor a great colorist yet that is how the art world sees him. Form and color were of no interest to him yet his canvas is filled with the soft edged stain of brilliant and later, subdued color. His hope was that the viewer would feel transcended, feel a human connection, find everything he had to say in the push and pull of the paint. If all we saw was the color than he felt the viewer had missed the point. Having only discovered him several years ago ( I know...late to the art party) I was smitten and felt connected like one does to a loved one. I saw the basics of human emotion, hooked and inspired with a passion to paint. Rothko is not, by far everyone's cup of tea the same way the music of Miles Davis or the writings of Mark Twain leave some yawning. But if we just listen beyond a musical note, imagine something beyond the written word, to the sensitive it can all come to life. Leave you speechless. In the 1950's Rothko stopped trying to explain his paintings saying that, "Words would only paralyze the viewers mind", adding, "Silence is so accurate".

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