Some thoughts on forms. (If they read awfully political, that is just the way I feel about anything these days.)
1. Some boundaries are “tools for separation” – painted intentionally in between color fields. Some boundaries are “result of separation” – natural distances between nonadjacent color fields. No boundary is clean. They are all messy and imprecise.
2. A color field is defined by its “homogeneity” or “uniformity” within its boundary. But look closely one will never find consistency. There are different layers, stroke marks, color inconsistencies, different level of reflections and transparencies… A lot of conflicts are going on. But it is called A color field nonetheless.
3. What differentiates a background from a foreground from a center of attention? Size? Color? Placement? Sequence of being painted? In an abstract-expressionist painting is there really any front¢er piece? No. Each is defined not only by itself but also others. They don’t exist without each other.
Typically, I would walk out of a Rothko with some kind of charged emotion: happiness, sadness, bitter-sweetness, love, fear, trust, confidence, insecurity… While brighter palette stimulates or reflects, the dark palette absorbs with force, taking all the emotions, both positive and negative, away from the body. What is left, surprisingly, is a sense of perpetual calmness and mindfulness.
On this note, I disagree with the critics interpreting the exhibit from Rothko’s death and depression. As terminal and eternal as death is conceptually, these works go beyond it. I would like to conjecture that Rothko made them not to reflect on his feelings induced by depression and death, but to bury them with colors, and paint them away with his brush.
To know an artwork, one has to get close and personal. This is more true for Rothko’s works. They object to magazine prints, web snapshots, and even smaller installations. I am glad I went to this one, in a cold rainy day, and buried some of my own feelings and emotions along the way.