Monday, November 06, 2006

The New Rothko Room

Yesterday I spent much of the afternoon in the Tate Modern, checking out the renovated galleries. I was a little worried about how they would deal with the Rothko room, but the new home for these paintings is absolutely brilliant. When I was a Masters student at Kings College London in 2000, the Rothko room was my refuge. I would often visit the gallery about twenty minutes before it closed and head straight for the Rothkos where I could sit alone and in silence between the huge canvases.

The new room is smaller, which is originally the size of space Rothko intended for these works, and the walls are painted the perfect complimentary light grey hue. Now the paintings seem to ooze out of the walls and if you sit there long enough, the paint seems to ooze out of the canvas as well. In this wonderful article about the new room by John Banville, he describes this effect as the colours seeping "up through the canvas like new blood through a bandage in which old blood has already dried. The violence of these images is hardly tolerable." Yet, I could sit in this room for hours - losing myself in these paintings or having the paintings disappear into me.

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