In art, when color is free of objective context, it becomes the focus, the subject. Color takes on personal, emotional meaning. For both the artist and the viewer. In Mark Rothko’s work, color holds the power to make us feel with raw emotion.
“I’m not an abstractionist. I’m not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.” ― Mark Rothko
This Artwork Monday, we’re exploring the concept of Color Fields. A concept attributed to art critic Clement Greenberg who believed not all Abstract Expressionists should be lumped together.
Abstract Expressionists like Jackson Pollock present the act of painting as an expression of internal creative energies.
While Color Field painting filled canvases with color reflective of mood using an aesthetic effect. Not purely a way to present the act of painting.
It’s in Color Field Painting like Mark Rothko’s where color is at its most free. Context holds meaning through color. So what did Black in Deep Red mean? Perhaps it’s the emotions felt while viewing a Rothko that truly matter.
New York Inspired Art
It’s through the filter of Color Fields that we can understand Crimson Lawn by Contemporary Artist Paolo Ferraris.
Though the form of New York City is faintly recognizable, it’s the color of Crimson Lawn that is the true subject of the piece.
I asked Paolo, why he pushed towards the color crimson in his work. New York’s Great Lawn after all, is not crimson as he depicts it.
“Deep reds, like the ones in Crimson lawn are pure passion. Agony and ecstasy. The color of blood and the wines I love. It’s the color of the last gasp of the sun before setting into the night.”
So why specifically push towards the red in your depictions of New York City?
“To me, red is the color of reality. Of Life. Blue is the color of fantasy and imagination. ” — Paolo Ferraris, Artist
For nearly a decade, Paolo Ferraris was a working Artist in New York City. A photographer by trade he made a living with his lens. The harsh realities of New York’s demands, no doubt impacted his Blue, Red & Yellow series in his “Still Movements” collection.
At times, the realities of New York City are inescapable.
At times, New York City gives birth to dreams.
To understand New York and the artists who struggle to make it there is to feel the energy and emotion within, as much as to see her skyline.
Rothko famously fought being defined as a Color Field Painter as adamantly as he fought being defined as an Abstractionist. For many artists the act of discussing, defining or their work, is painful. In creating they are free. In defining viewers strive to understand, ultimately pinning down an artist.
Which means Artwork Monday is purely an interpretation. You the viewer can draw your own conclusion reached through with pure emotion. How does red make you feel?