Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Inspiration: Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1962 (source)

Mark Rothko, Yellow and Gold, 1956, (source)

Mark Rothko, N0. 9, (source)
 I love the way these paintings deal with colour, the way that they appear deceptivley simple, non fussy blocks of colour. The way that the paint is applied belies this simplicity, and creates a depth of colour that is masterful, and complex. The texture of the paint is what does it for me- I love the way that paint will brush over itself on canvas (it only does it on canvas-because of the rough weave) leaving little areas of the colour that you laid down before, to pop out against the top colour. It makes a painting infinitley fascinating to me, to find these little spots where the medium is glorified, where the things that you use to make the image are as important as the image itself.

I think that's where artists and non-artists lose each other when they're talking about abstract art.  Artists love making art- they love the mediums, and they appreciate when other artists expose that passion. I had a painting prof who would love it whenever anyone in a crit said things like " I love that little blobby bit of paint"- he would Exclaim- Yes! that's how artists talk- they say things like " I love that blue, or that brushstroke is cool" it's so simple, it's not always about content- sometimes it's just about the paint (though a painting that is just about paint is a sort of comment- and partly why abstract expressionism is so important).

See here's the thing, the Renaissance paintings that are held up in such high esteem by non-artists are beautiful, and representational, and lifelike (in some cases)- but they're smooth as silk- there are no brushstrokes, no choppy areas, no 'painterly' mannerisms. When I've seen famous paintings up close, things like the Sistine chapel, Raphael's paintings, even the Mona Lisa- it's always a bit of a disappointment- because they look exactly like the images you've seen in books, there's nothing to discover by seeing in them in person- no insight into the artist- no lovely bits of blobby paint or subtle texture. On the other hand- Abstract Expressionist paintings take on a whole new quality in real life- they take up space- they shift back, they seem luminous, the colours jump against each other- you can see where one layer of paint was put on top of the other- they have life. A Pollock on the page is nothing- but in person it's an amazingly intricate web of paint, that seems to push back into the wall in some spots, and jump out at you in others.

No comments:

Post a Comment