Friday, 21 November 2008
Mark Rothko's work has a similar effect on me as Joan Eardley's. It just swallows me up... gulp... I'm gone. The paintings are left.
It's quietly sombre contemplative. The scale and the colour are just all that is there. I had been looking forward to the Tate Exhibition and kept wandering through the rooms, back and forth. The scale of paintings, the different series - 15 or so of the Seagram Murals in one room; the Black form paintings, Brown on Grey and Black on Grey. Fabulous.
There were two comments that stuck.
One was a conversation I overheard in the room with the black on black series: such variety in black (red, brown, green and blue ones; opaque, transclucent, matt, shiney). An elderly couple sat next to me. Her emotional response to the black was straightforward: "He must have been such a sad person." And she was clearly distraught by all the black she saw.
That's it. Enough said. You see, you read, you associate painting=painter.
Have a look at the series in question for yourself. The Tate has the exhibition online... here is the link to the Black Form Paintings
Similar to the Twombly exhibition, I had taken an audio guide - actually much more: a nice touch screen, music, stories, additional images. Very nicely done! And not in this room but in a later room, the curator commented on Rothko's association with the Abstract Expressionists. He, the curator was doubtful, commenting along the lines that while Rothko intended and experimented intensely with the evocation of emotional responses by the viewers of his paintings, the paintings themselves don't tell us all that much about Rothko the person, they are thus not particularly expressive/expressionist.
Interesting thought. I'll keep that.
The other one was the commentary on the last series: Black on Grey. In various sizes, formats, different borders surrounding them.
Instruction #1 for that room: This is not a horizon line. Don't read it as such.
And here is the Black on Grey room
That is difficult - not to read it as horizon line. But I'm trying - and the painting is all the better for it. Brian had commented on abstraction as the barest hint at something, to be filled in. Let me fill that thought a bit further - or take it elsewhere.