Posted by: Viola | April 7, 2014

Visit to the Rothko Chapel

Today, my friend Rachel took me to see the Rothko Chapel in downtown Houston. I have never seen anything like this until today. A building specifically designed and built to house several paintings by Mark Rothko. The space and the artwork are intended to be sacred, so it felt very meditative and peaceful. But I felt uncomfortable. This feeling of discomfort is not unfamiliar to me, but it’s not necessarily the kind of feeling I want to be subjected to. All the paintings were done in very dark colors, a similar black or dark gray/blue/purple (hard to tell), some with a dark red border, and all were intensely monochromatic. This made the space feel extremely dark. Haunting. I didn’t feel like staying there too long. But I could see how the sameness of the paintings might help to focus the mind, help bring the mind to attention and stillness. All the same, I felt overwhelmed. Like I had stepped off Planet Earth and I was adrift in the cosmos, in a dark part of outer space where no sunlight can reach. I felt a sense of relief when I stepped out of the chapel and into the soft sunlight from an overcast sky. And I stood by the reflective pool in front of the Rothko Chapel and took a deep breath of sunlit air.

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