Countless viewers have spent countless hours in blessed-out meditative nirvana beholding a Mark Rothko painting. This week, an art dream of mine came true when I participated in a guided meditation set within the famed Rothko galleries at the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA.
MOCA’s holdings of the artist’s “multiform” paintings is one of the finest anywhere, and as such, the ideal spot to contemplate the artist and his work while (trying to) silence the noise of the everyday mind. After a half hour or so of exploring the room and its contemporary wing, I joyfully parked myself in front of the subtle and stunning Black on Dark Sienna on Purple.
As the guide discussed the different colours of the meditative prahnahs, the correlative effect that Rothko sought to impart through his paintings became strikingly clear. Though we were instructed to close our eyes during the practice, I found it impossible. Rothko himself stated that “a picture lives by companionship, expanding and quickening in the eyes of the sensitive observer.” Too stimulated to shut out the beauty before me, I found solace in the painting’s visual vibrations, and a renewed sense of admiration for the artist who created them.
Mark Rothko’s No. 12 (Black on Dark Sienna on Purple), 1960; oil on canvas