Beyond Colour:The work of Mark Rothko

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The first time I laid eyes on a painting of artist Mark Rothko, I was watching the movie “Prime” a movie starring Uma Thurman and Meryl Streep.   The premise of the film is simply the attraction between  an older woman younger  man, where they find a commonality in art (cut to Mark Rothko). The image was divided into two parts. It started off with a smouldering red border and had a huge segment of blue with what looks like tan on the bottom. At first I just thought it was two huge blob delivered onto a piece of canvas, but for no reason what so ever, I couldn’t get the image out of my head. It stuck or was it just love at first sight*sigh*. My attraction to the piece was uncanny and it was ridiculous the way I would stalk the image, looking for it on-line finding more pieces like it and then digging up information about the artist himself. 

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Rothko attempted to find a path of spiritual utopia and his work was said to of had onlookers weeping in museums. I can believe it, seems to allow you to sink into each colour expressed on the page and his interpretations are endless. 

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Rothko liked to abandon the use of  titles to name his work starting in 1974, he resorted to numbers or colours to distinguish between paintings. Then he went a step further ,and just stopped explaining the meaning of his work. He said “Silence is so accurate,” he feared that by giving a title to the painting he would then subject the viewer to see his views, his imagination. 

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His search for knowing all things true with certainty was  ended at the age of 66. Rothko passed away in a pool his own blood slumped over his kitchen sink, after slitting his wrist at the elbows, unable to sustain his pursuit of the ineffable. 

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The images are simple enough to enjoy with only one passing, but powerful enough to absorb large amounts of time gazing and getting lost in colour. Colour is very powerful form of expression. Daily when we choose the colours we wear we express a bit about who we are. Each colour Rothko used evoked emotion, and meaning as they interact with each other, on canvas. 

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Today Rothkos work can be found speckled throughout many expressions of creativity and innovation giving it a “Rotkoeque feel. Websites such as “Wear Palettes” is an inspirational place for personal style. It showcases palettes of common street clothing and interiors in a fashion that can be cohesive with Rothko’s work. 


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