When I see a Rothko painting, the feeling is akin to that moment between waking and sleep when one is delayed—happily—in an absence of category. A purity of breath and stillness without effort. A cessation of being. But to be transported to these realms by his art, I must see the original painting in person. Otherwise the image has no effect.
And this is the enduring strength of Rothko in the age of the smartphone.
This happens when I have been alone too long—the words start to leak out of everything and they will not stop. I cannot look around, I cannot take a single step, without it becoming prose, and it is not welcome. It thrusts me into a place where language imposes this acute separation between me and everything else—leaks its ink out of the bark, the pavement, the sky, flowing directly from itself to me in the form of a stream of words, and it will not let me rest.
I’ll be honest: It was Norway I’d begun dreaming of. My imagination was taken captive by images of fjords and pines, of iron and snow and bears, of iced sea light and a refreshing, starry cold. I was certain this was the next place beauty would greet me.
For a long time, I worked somewhere different each day. I spent long hours on the subway, commuting from location to location. Collecting one lonely descent after the other, hours spent zoning in and out of the rhythmic haul of the trains, I started to feel like I occupied two worlds, spending half my time in the one belowground. Finding myself stuck in this closed circuit of city gears, I had nothing else to do but notice the strange aesthetics of this underworld. .
In a holiday season full of the wonder of childhood delight mixed with the hopes and burdens of adults, our contributor Jane Potthast stumbles upon a favorite painting from childhood and wonders whether it holds something new for her now.