words and art by w a l t e r w s m i t h


Post Canvas and Paint: Variations | Fading Light with Mark Rothko

Faint text final small file

Today I had the pleasure of attending a Mark Rothko exhibit at the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, South Carolina. The exhibit was entitled The Decisive Decade | 1940’s. The work was an exploration of his association with myth, and dreams leading up to his more prominent work in abstraction. It was a very informative exhibit. I was fortunate to have seen, years ago, an exhibit of his more well-known work from the 1950’s and beyond at a Philadelphia Museum of Art retrospective. I really like his work, as I do most of the abstract artists of that period. While viewing the exhibit at its conclusion, I felt inspired to perhaps again, start doing some large-scale painting. Something I have neglected to do over the years. His work in abstract painting, as he described it, was to fill his sense of deprivation. Deprivation was the central motivation for his abstract work. Hard to explain, but only the abstract could fill the mystical union of the unconscious and the formality of the outer world. Forming an entity unto itself in abstract terms. As I sat there and pondered the use of this medium and style of painting, I suddenly wanted to find the simplicity to express with my hands–outside the box of the computer. Simplicity being the center of this revelation. Bold flat colors, simple geometric forms in which to speak directly to the viewer. A contrast to my digital work perhaps. Which leads me to this piece “Fading Light with Mark Rothko”. It is a combination of the two worlds. Digital and painting. I often find myself pursuing visually an image of multiple themes and layers; ideas built around my personal experiences. One thing I discovered in this exhibit, was Rothko’s desire. A desire, in his pursuit of the abstract, to leave his personal interpretation behind, allowing the viewer to incorporate their own consciousness into the work. Again in this piece, I am searching for a more direct expression.

As part of this Post Canvas and Paint: Variations series, I will periodically be attempting to post a piece that leans toward a simple form of visual composition. I also will be using these posts as a place to experiment with the various Adobe Photoshop tools. Remember … “Nothing is ever collected in one moment”.

7 responses

  1. mobius faith

    Totally fab Walter. Sweet.

    December 29, 2012 at 12:40 am

  2. Walter, this is a very interesting and thought-provoking post for someone who is not an artist. I was introduced to Rothko not that long ago and was fascinated by his work but I have no language to articulate my response to it. “…to leave his personal interpretation behind, allowing the viewer to incorporate their own consciousness into the work…” I find this very interesting and I suspect that this is the element in much of your work that seems to attract me. It is accessible. I’m not sure if that makes any sense to you. And I hope it is not somehow, degrading. As I said, I have no language to express how I relate to art.

    December 30, 2012 at 6:01 am

    • Thanks Linda for taking the time to absorb the commentary. I too have for many years found it difficult to somehow “see” the “expressed” view from the artist’s perspective without perhaps commentary from a curator, reviewer, or critic. However, I think it is important to balance the point of view of the reviewer with your own perspective derived your own visual asethic. You know what you feel about a work of art from an instinctive place.

      December 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm

      • All art forms are a two way road, aren’t they.

        December 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm

  3. I love Mark Rothko. Thanks for blogging about him!

    December 31, 2012 at 10:56 pm

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