|Mark Rothko - Black Form Painting|
Apart from a very handy black dress that hangs under used in my wardrobe, I tend to view black as a heavy, burdensome colour. A colour associated with the unknown, depression and a threatening emptiness. Worn at funerals and revered as a symbol of angst and introspection by Goths and Emos. A colour identified with distortion and negativity; black and white thinking, the shadow of the yin and yang.
Yet my perception was altered upon experiencing Mark Rothko's Black Form paintings.
During the Summer of 2008 a rather jittery Younger Dad proposed to me in the familiar comfort of our living room. I promptly accepted his hand in marriage. Actually, I asked him to repeat his proposal again. I wanted to savour the moment. Poor Younger Dad. Asking once was nerve wrackingly bad enough. But twice? I was an exceptionally lucky girl. We had the engagement ring made; it has a diamond flanked by two sea green sapphires. Green is my favourite colour.
So I wanted to give Younger Dad something special in return. As part of my engagement present I bought two tickets to a Mark Rothko retrospective at the Tate Modern followed by a sumptuous dinner at the Oxo Tower restaurant.
On a Saturday afternoon in October I surprised Younger Dad with two tickets to the exhibition. He was over joyed as he really appreciates Rothko's work. So that evening we made our way to the Embankment. I remember the sunset well. Looking out of the upper deck window of the packed bus it was as if a bottle of claret had been nonchalantly poured over the heavens; a glowing mosaic of ruby splats and splodges staining the Autumn sky. What a visually vibrant start to a special occasion.
We spent at least an hour at the retrospective. I found myself drawn to a smaller room that housed a selection of Mark Rothko's Black Form paintings. The space was busy; full of post work chatter and the sharp clinking of wine glasses. I sat in front of one of the pieces and found myself seduced into stillness and quietude. The painting lured me into its darkness and invited an uncertain plunge into the deep space that dwells within my inner core. A starless night is what I discovered within. Not to sound too pretentious I touched upon an existential void; an empty nothingness. An abyss. And in this blackness I felt comforted and calmed. A serene blanket wrapped around me that drowned out the external hubbub. And I felt reassured, bolstered by the solidity of Rothko's Black.
Visually Rothko's Black may seem uninteresting, even bland. What's there to actually look at? But emotionally it had such a profound impact on my senses. I could have meditated in front of Black for hours. But with a soft tap on my shoulder Younger Dad distracted me from my reverie and off we strolled to satiate ourselves with a four course meal at the Oxo Tower.
Black isn't actually a colour; its the absence of all colours. In a positive light, it represents an emptiness in which anything can disappear an re-emerge anew imbued with potential and possibility.
Mark Rothkos's Black paintings hang in the Mark Rothko Chapel, a tranquil environment that offers an 'intimate sanctuary to people of every belief'. I think I'm going to add the Chapel to my bucket list of essential places to visit before I'm paying for an annual subscription to readers digest and sucking on humbugs.
|Mark Rothko Chapel|
I never realised that black could be so spiritually renewing and transformative.
I am linking up this post with Midlife Single Mum's very imaginative Art I Heart meme. The idea is that you choose one piece of art you feel drawn to and write a short story about it.