Black on Maroon Sketch for “Mural No.6”
1958 by Mark Rothko
Rothko’s exhibition at the Tate was overwhelmingly impressive; amassed, the paintings were engrossing and all encompassing. The size of the canvases are immediately arresting; such enormity paired with the powerful, statement-like, simplicity of Rothko’s style is prevailing in the way in which darkness is, altering all line of sight. Seemingly black, the colour of “Mural No.6” is actually a deathly purple, proving to be darker and more shadowy – possessing an unrelenting, unending depth. The intensity of such colour next to the blurred edges of oblong shapes increases the feeling of mystery further – a window of mauve bringing out the purple tinge of the dark. The use of two oblong shapes is clever as it neither opens or closes any possibility of subject; these could be doors, two eyes, views through a window: a bottomless pit of interpretation, that is, if the viewer feels the need to push such a description upon them. What is so fascinating about Rothko is his painterly ability to completely absorb our attention without naming any subject. Left alone with the simplicity of shape and precise use of colour, is to be commanded into a trance of attention, bewitched by an unexplained and compelling darkness.