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me and mark

rothko. i finally got to see the amazing retrospective at the tate. it seems you either love his work or hate it. i'm firmly in the love camp and i spent several hours in the show.

rather than join the queue of critics, analysing and prosetylising (as i usually do), i've decided to just transcribe my garbled notes from the show. it's a really personal account, a public peek into a private relationship between me and one of my all time favourite artists.

the track listings are from a playlist my friend jeremy made me, which turns out was perfect for the exhibition.

[and inspired me to make playlists for myself for other shows. i reckon the tate should include these on itunes too, so you can download them before you go to the show.]

Room 8
Nick Cave, This Wonderful Life

" across these purple fields"

Permission to Meditate
Atmosphere & Sound
Rothko & Rhythm
Painting & Depth

Room 7
Animals, We've Got to Get Out of This Place

Study for Seagram Murals
Just let the colour flood..
"He's been working so hard, every day and night"

Room 5
PJ Harvey, Horses in My Dreams

No. 5, 1964
Dark purple/brown, with black window
Dreams & Darkness. A faint place to find

Untitled, 1964
Red ground
Indian Red Window
The harmonious and joyous contrast
The line between the colours fills my hear with joy
I want to dive in and make it home

A double horizon line
Above, I am reminded of the wide, brown land
As the sky burns
I need to visit the hinterland

The edges are final, resolute. Firm.
They are tender in their boundaries
Yet strict in their line
A place in which one rubs up against the other.

Study for side-wall triptychs
-good to see a spot of rogue red pigment in his work too.

Room 6
Nick Cave, The Mercy Seat, Live (with Warren Ellis)

'I began to warm and chill to objects and their fields'
'A blackened tooth, a scarlet fog. The walls are bad. Black. Bottom kind.'

I just want to close my eyes and have these paintings burned into my eyeballs.
Works that at once activate and ask to sit. Move in order to find the form; sit in order to find its content.

It is about paint in as much as it is not about paint.

Reminds me of Glenn Ligon's analysis of black pigment @ rivington place at the moment.

Room 3: Seagram Murals
Tom Waits: 2:19
Nick Cave, Rye Whiskey

Large room, lowly lit
The whole series, around
It's enormous and not quite as beautiful as the 'rothko room', but it's still impressive.

My favourite Rothko:Red on Maroon
Leonard Cohen, Avalanche

A mist rises from the ground and a red rectangle
sits boldly over the top. Resolutely.
Everything shimmers in the dimness.

Room 9
Nick Cave, Hammer Song
Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Hammer Song

Black and grey fields. Delicious

They have a cleannes about them. A starkness and cuttingly accurate punctuation.
The whiteness on the edges, like a cold splash on my face.
In fact the whole work is about the edge
Liminality is such a common term
Yet here it is.
The eye roves the plane, searching for the edge.
Detail, lost in space.
And as we search for it, it enlarges itself.
The black becomes omnipresent
Grey, its elusive younger brother, enveloping our vision with lack.
We search and search, despite it.

I want to encircle the room, 100 times
To traverse this space,
To measure it, taste it, know it.
To circumvent the stillness with an action of searching
And to feel the expanse of brushstrokes beneath my feet
Feel the Lamp Black freezing my cheeks
And to chisel the surface of grey wash with steps.
One in front of the other.

I want to walk right into the picture
And keep going
Until I get to the end.
Walkabout Untitled, 1969.

Room 4
Bad exhibition design/traffic mgmt.

Room 2
Roland. S. Howard, The Passenger (Iggy Pop cover)

'Bright and hollow sky'

Four Darks in Red, 1958
Foreground, middle ground, background and 'the bit at the top'
Actually, the lower band reminds me of the Isenheim Altarpiece where jesus' tomb is below the main action
-Underground, foreground, mid, back.
It burns, it burns.

Mystery without confusion
The edge of the background quite active with the end of the brush.

Room 1
The Stranglers,On Golden Brown
Tom Waits, Where I lay my Head

A lightness & carefree touch
Studies that have a pop-ness about them.
Rhythm & regularity. Dancing.

On red construction paper (what is that? I want)

Cut marks & folds.
Process & fingerprints

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At 30 January, 2009 23:59, Blogger john dodds said...

Agree with you on both the rothko room comparison and the exhibition management and lighting (tho not as bad as Bacon)

At 31 January, 2009 02:51, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, don't get me wrong, i like the dimness..

At 02 February, 2009 00:38, Blogger Ben.H said...

As you guessed, I got nothing to do in London next week so drop me an email when you know you're free.

The big Rothko room was brighter than their regular room, presumably so you could get a look at them all at once. The view of the whole room taken as a whole was probably the highlight for me.

I hadn't seen those last black and grey paintings before and I'm still figuring out what to make of them, and if they're any good.

The annoying part was the room with the Tate's usual insistence on adding an edumacational angle to everything.

At 02 February, 2009 10:51, Blogger mayhem said...

HOORAY! a fitting tribute

At 03 February, 2009 20:48, Blogger lauren said...

hey ben - sounds great. i'm squishing quite a bit into the last 3 days in london, but i'll email you.

you're right about being able to take in the whole room, but with about 100 people in it, i also took in a whole lot of conversation which kind of spoiled it for me. whereas the small room on its own kind of had this chapelesque reverence to it.

and yeah, edumacationalise everything is a bit annoying (like those damned audio guides). but i went to the surpentine today, which was worser!

At 03 February, 2009 20:49, Blogger lauren said...

and mayhem - kudos from you? aw shucks.


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