Pickled Ginger

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"Pickled Ginger" (c)2012 Acrylic on Canvas

“Pickled Ginger” (c)2012 Acrylic on Canvas, 20″ x 24″

Although I’ve named these paintings “Faux-Rothko . . .,” these actually are not Rothko imitations. I’ve obviously used a formal resemblance, but that’s where it ends.

Mark Rothko was an abstract artist whose signature work was his body of Color Field painting from the late 40s onwards. Many of these works consist of hundreds of thin, translucent layers of pigment, brilliant color intensities and varied hues. The visual mystery in his work is amplified by his use of the “turpentine burn.” This is a technique where pigment is removed or blurred along the edge of two adjoining colors by scrubbing the canvas with a solvent-soaked rag. The resulting ambiguity of boundaries causes the fields of colors to “float.” Combine these visual undulations with the monumental size of the canvases and you can begin to understand why the art has stirred the meditative side of viewers for decades—his chapel in Texas being a most sacred example.

Considering his work, it’s not a surprise that Rothko was deeply concerned with the spiritual emptiness of man and is quoted, saying: “The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them.”

He is very much the complex root system reflecting the magnificent tree you see above-ground. Rothko is a fascinating artist, and man, and I look forward to writing about him in-depth in the future.

But for now, let me restate that my images are not true Rothko imitations. There is no deep philosophy, extensive methodology or deliberate techniques behind them. They are also tiny, relative to his. Rather, think of them as “palette cleansers” that function like the Japanese palate cleanser: pickled ginger. They are merely exercises in minimalism (relative to my usual work) and restraint (see my comment on restraint here) between working on my real canvases. But I had much fun with them and plan on exploring his techniques down the road.

I did use a modified turpentine burn in “No.4” and “Light” consisting of rubbing the acrylic pigments with a sea sponge.

Also, in this online image of “Light” the contrast is so faint and the color differentiations so difficult to see that I created an enhanced version by throwing on a digital color-burn gradient to reveal their existence.

The images appear in the order I painted them.



Faux Rothko No.1

“Faux Rothko No.1” (c)2012, 11″ x 14″

Faux Rothko No.2

“Faux Rothko No.2” (c)2012, 11″ x 14″

Faux Rothko No.3

“Faux Rothko No.3” (c)2012, 11″ x 14″

Faux Rothko No.4

“Faux Rothko No.4” (c)2012, 11″ x 14″

Faux Rothko Light

“Faux Rothko Light” (c)2013, 16″ x 19 3/4″

Faux Rothko Light (Enhanced)

“Faux Rothko Light” (Enhanced) (c)2013, 16″ x 19 3/4″

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