Wednesday, 28 January 2009

RothKOed

Yesterday Maggi and I trained up to the Big Bad City [no not the craven broadcasting medium that won't show an appeal for the sorely tested Gaza people] - we went to London, the Tate Modern and visited Mr. Rothko, or at least his remains.

The picture above lies in its teeth as the background is maroon, not purple. I swallowed my good taste and bought this collection of fridge magnets to remind moi of the power of some of his paintings, tiny silly stickies in the kitchen, huge monolithic paintings in the Tate, seemed cheery somehow.
When I make something I am a throwback to the Modernists, I like to create emotive figures redolent with my adolescent angst.
Old Rothko wanted to get rid of any recognisable representation, or any link to the artist. He thought hmmmmmm.........painting, surely that should consist of paint.
So there we are - maybe 20 years of dragging himself out of an alcoholic stupor [he was still immured in that stereotype of an artist] swishing about with a paintbrush, trying to make us meditate on the qualities of colour on colour, eventually black on black. Somewhat uncompromising.
When he killed himself he was found in a large puddle of scarlet blood, which some have taken as his last statement, but I doubt he really cared by then.
Which is a shame, if he had seen the hoardes of small children yesterday, coralled by bemused teachers, crawling delightedly over the parquet flooring in front of the paintings, scribbling rectangles onto the pages of their sketchbooks, avidly pencilling them in with great enthusiasm, he might have felt happier. I hope somehow he knows.
The Seagram collection, scarlet on maroon, [some of which were already in their own small room at the Tate] now fill a huge room with an unearthly glow.
Other rooms have brown on black and the infamous black on black.
Rothko used different additives to his paint, [like Da Vinci he sometimes used eggs] to give varying and subtle surfaces. The scarlet hollow boxes smeared at the edges onto the dark maroon became mesmerising, against my will.
One Art Lecturer said - to be Contemporary the work should implode the expected scale, [be monumental or tiny] and the artist has to live in the appropriate city, London or New York, otherwise people will not even bother to raise their eyebrows as the walk on by.
Probably the artist should also be touched by the angels/devil as I doubt anyone else could conceive of what Rothco did, make a flat surface - sing.
Shame it wasn't enough for him.

2 comments:

Sue said...

You are brilliant on Rothko, now I understand him.

carol said...

I heartily agree with the above comment! Wish I could have seen these with you...