Part of this being in London thing is doing the class assignments of course. One of our diy projects was to hit up the Mark Rothko (wow, I used his first name!) show at the Tate Modern. Now, I know you’re average Rothko. I mean this in the least familiar of senses. I’ve read about him in Kathrine Kuh’s book and I’ve seen his work here and there but, no, I’m not obsessive and, no, I haven’t seen him in this number before. There are a ton!
I’ve heard about his smaller works. Now seeing them, I like. Get into this burgundy, red series at the Tate and, also beautiful. These are the most familiar style with the loose look of overlapping colors weaving in and out of the visual playing field like we’re exploring the depths of the kaleidoscopes. I find a stunning one, iridescent shine, and pick up the post card. Then we get into these black form ones and here I find true love. Maybe even true art. Yes. The common viewer must want to call this man an asshole and I want his work to be the lover who will never love me back.
Now if I were to paint a series of black form pieces, I would get the idea and I would laugh out loud for a moment. No one would notice any difference from my usual unusuality. However, if I were to actually paint it, I would lay it out, tape it off. I would lay down the paint and I would stand back and there it would be. For all of its hypothetical physical presence it would still be an idea of my head. And this is where Rothko’s beauty lies. I’m sure there are many Rothko fans that already know exactly what I’m about to write and therefore will understand how little the meaning behind the words can actually translate. But here it is anyways.
There’s unspeakable passion in Rothko’s painting. It’s not an idea – it’s a love affair – with the color, the canvas, the stroke. It’s in the quite, subtle, softness of both knowing where to touch and how it will react. Letting it be both mysterious and understood. Closing your eyes, trusting and just breathing the same breath. It’s the intimacy of the affair, the private, unconditional love glance that causes that someone to notice the little quirks you never knew you had. And that’s what my painting would miss if I had ever tried to make it – the unseen movement of heartstrings that really hold the brush.
Maybe not everyone sees it that way, but to me it’s clear. I searched the gift shops for postcards of the black form pieces. And realized lovingly that their beauty couldn’t be photographed; I mean this honestly. Don’t look at the ones online. They polarize the black on black so you can only see it as two shades when it’s really meant to be seen as both one and two shades at the same time. I’ve looked for pictures to add to the post and I certainly challenge you to find one that comes close to accurately being what the black form pieces truly are, or maybe more percisely, truly art.