My Favourite Artist Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko is my favourite artist. I love how he was able to express so much emotion in just two or three colour fields on the canvas. Looking at his paintings is like going on a long journey.

“If you are only moved by color relationships, you are missing the point. I am interested in expressing the big emotions – tragedy, ecstasy, doom.”

Although the colours are truly beautiful in most of his later paintings, Rothko wanted to express so much more than beauty. The way he did this was in an abstract form.

The thing with ‘abstract’ is: how can you describe it? Words would always fail to tell the truth of a painting. This is exactly what is appealing to me: the fact that words will never be able to say what the picture says. It’s like music, smell, taste and touch – we try to describe their realities, but we can never catch the whole sensation with our limited alphabet and this is perfect.

It means we can’t control or fully comprehend that which we try to describe. It forces us to admit there’s a certain mystery, something divine perhaps, in what we perceive. Something that is greater than we are.

Looking at Rothko’s paintings is like staring into the flames of a fire, like watching a sunset, like birth or death – like nature. Too big to put in words. Too mysterious to comprehend. It’s humbling and empowering at the same time.

” […] I believe that all great art holds the power to dissolve things: time, distance, difference, injustice, alienation, despair. I believe that all great art holds the power to mend things: join, comfort, inspire hope in fellowship, reconcile us to ourselves.

Art is good for my soul precisely because it reminds me that we have souls in the first place. […]”

– Tilda Swinton

The actress Tilda Swinton was being presented with a Rothko Chapel Visionary Award at the Rothko Chapel in Houston in 2014. Read her full, beautiful and inspiring speech here.

In this time where communication is so important and everything is being reported in the (social) media, it is a relieve to look at something, feel a hundred thousand feelings for or because of it, and remain silent – to not even try to catch it in words. That’s what I’m going back to now: looking at paintings and not even try!

To mystery,

Miriam Aziz

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