Friday, August 23, 2013

Rothko was a punk

My husband and I saw the Rothko exhibit at the DAM a week or so ago. It was another one of those shows they put together to elucidate the artist's journey from point A to point G or so. Going by what was in front of me, he started out making pretty obvious copies of Dali or Picasso stuff. The outlines are all drippy clocks and rearranged pieces of the whole. I had no idea he started out that way. The progression into playing with fields of color, scraping and layering and rotating the canvas didn't come until later. The end of the show doesn't give you the final, "typical" result, those delineated rectangles in combinations of three or four colors. But you do get to see him heading there, with the huge canvas sizes and swaths of blurry colors that swallow you up. There is something to be said, I think, about working at what you love first and finding your niche within that world secondly. In fact, it's nearly a truism that its easier to start big and refine as you go. But often times I know I've felt like if I didn't immediately have a natural talent for something I may as well give it up, no matter how happy what I'm doing makes me otherwise. I see my daughter shut down like that, too, sometimes. If a drawing goes awry or she runs into a skill wall with her sewing it's give up time because...because? Because if you have to work for it, somehow it doesn't count? Because the expectation that she'll do everything the right way the first time cognitively collides with less than perfect reality and that sucks? Maybe. That's how I tend to feel about it in my own work, anyway. One thing that the show highlighted for me was how much of a bunch of crap that line of thinking is. And how I should lead by example a bit more for my kids. Which is a bit of a wander from "wow, was Rothko ever a copycat" but that's my logic and I'm sticking to it. Also, it reminds of this Walt Whitman reading:
I think that, from now on Rothko is going to be our household saint for saying no to genius and yes to happy.

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