April 10, 2011
I don’t believe that you can really fall in love with an artist’s work before you see it within an arm’s reach. You might genuinely like an image, but you won’t get the real essence of what this piece of art is about until you find yourself standing in front of it, absorbing the whole spectrum of emotion. I can’t come up with a reasonable explanation for this process – and decide whether it’s your subconscious at work, bringing your dreams and fantasies to life; whether it is you absorbing the painting, or the painting absorbing you.
My personal relationship with Rothko's art began several years ago, when I saw one of his paintings in front of me. When we ended up in his gallery at the MoMA, we stayed there for a long time. It’s an incredible feeling, when you stand before his work for a while. You feel like touching it. It’s only your sense of personal safety stopping you from doing so – your hand is almost reaching for the colour, and you’re not sure which space or dimension you will end up in if you come in contact with it. (I also don’t recommend touching paintings for more practical reasons – in order to avoid the attention of the security staff.)
This is the great power of art. Our presence in front of it is rather secondary. Even the maker of the artwork – a painter, a sculptor, or a photographer, takes on the role of an instrument. Having made been created, the artwork acquires a life of its own. It can live without us, and its life is far beyond our will.