62 x 62 x 62 cm
In response to the visit at the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague. Beside me at the table are two women, and one whispers: "In the end I felt it. Everything comes out of your memory. As he painted, he also let everything come out of his memory." It is clear to everyone who he is: Mark Rothko.
A friend, Gabriëlle van de Laak was at the Rothko exhibition. She noticed that the Rothko works in the Gemeentemuseum were approached as sanctities to be worshipped. That approach may be so, considering the way the museum advertises the exhibition.
A painting of Rothko consists of paint, leaden paint. A story can transform buildings and water into holy sites. Such a story can give substance to the paint on a canvas in the same way. The essence is that you open yourself unconditionally to the story. You must accept the story. It works also the other way. As Rothko is busy in his studio with a large canvas, he lets the colours come to him. He hopes that everyone will feel the same. He adds some black, creates a bigger red spot, or blurs a line. Don’t worry, relax. "Gotcha," he must have thought, "this is it." The painting is finished. It is called abstract expressionism, but what is expressive? The expression here is actually very thoughtful and restrained. Most impressive are the Seagram Murals. It is monumental mysticism.
It is difficult to come face to face alone with a painting. You see people staring. Occasionally I can manage to stand before one of the murals without anyone in front of me. I see that it can succeed, that you can make your own quiet, almost meditative, as if you are at the seaside, but different. These paintings show views that you could hardly encounter in reality. A cloudy sky moves, a wall has only one colour, a landscape is too busy. You do not see that. I stare at a purple plane with a dark edge. Nothing more, but certainly no less, and that's what counts. Emotion. Then someone takes a photo with her mobile phone. The spell is broken.
In one corner of my eye I suddenly see the festive Victory Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian and, because it is so busy, I go there and stand with my nose almost up against it.
On the ground floor are more Mondrians belonging to the extended collection of the museum. A great deal from The Style, exhibited together with models by Mies van der Rohe and work by van Doesburg.
Back home I make a drawing of a cube within a cube and in a round cavity. I will use purple pigment. The heavy sculpture must radiate quietness so that you can disappear into it with your thoughts.
Photo 2: Mark Rothko in Gemeentemuseum
Photo 3: Piet Mondrian, Victory Boogie Woogie, Detail.