An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Friday, November 07, 2008

Mute in the presence of beauty

The sky was split in two east west when the girls caught up with me having a smoke and so ominous was the east that Gill checked that she had an umbrella with her. We smoked and talked and began to anticipate the Rothko over at Tate Modern. Lindz was all excitement - she had never seen Rothko save in books though she was acutely aware of my love for his work - she has been sending me Rothko calendars for many a year. But when I tried, in my artistically illiterate way, to explain to her that one does not see Rothko works so much as experience Rothko's work she was nonplussed. It's to do with size and power and emotion and pure physicaity of colour ... I trailed off. I become mute in the presence .... anyway, you'll experience it yourself soon enough. OK, let's go - we'll take the river boat I think.

As we walked the embankment Gill and I recalled the amazing evocation of it that Eva Figes manages (The Tree of Knowledge is it or Nelly's Version - maybe a reader here will clear it up for me - maybe it's neither). It seems my memory of this place is more closely linked now to literature than to the multitude of actual, physical experiences of the place itself. Is that to do with the effect of time or the power of the word? A chill swept along the river with the tide and brought us back to London proper and to Lindz.

As we waited for the river boat a chill of apprehension came over me at the very idea of being with Rothko again. I had, for several years before leaving the UK, used the Rothko room (Tate Modern's permanent exhibition of some of the Seagram Murals) as a place to meditate and think up new ideas (it was only a 77 bus ride away) but had even after that regular exposure still never been able to enter the room without gasping. And to think - Rothko was always worried about his legacy!

I missed the Houses of Parliament but when the Eye and the whole South Bank complex came into view memories came flooding with the tide and in no time at all we were mooring in front of the old Bankside Power Station - a place we had spent Sundays in summer long before it became Tate Modern. And off we trooped a trois, picking our way through happy familes and bemused foreign sight seers.

We eschewed the first entrance, choosing instead to enter directly into the massive and massively impressive Turbine Hall and Lindz trooped off to pick up our tickets (Lindz was picking up all the tabs today - sweetie!). I was gathering myself. Up the escalator - and there it was. We took the leaflet proffered by a young man in sports clothing who was ushering us all through the entrance. I hung back, averting my eyes from the first room and checking the leaflet - 9 rooms - the black on blacks that I've never experienced, the brown and greys, ditto, and even the black on grays - wow!. And then it happened - my peripheral vision had picked up the first room and locked in on it - I was caught and was being reeled in. My heart slowed, a lump formed in my throat and without any notice I found myself crying - floods - and suddenly I found myself standing in awe and wonder in room 3 where the Seagram Murals - 15 of them? 14? it's impossible to count and who really cares - surrounded by this amazing hanging I am shattered - I am gasping and trying to control both my tears and my breathing. Gill is beside me - she anticipated this. This is joy. Pure and simple joy. Lindz is shocked, people are looking at me and frankly I just don't care - in the presence I am autistic - incapable of communication - mute and wordless - the work speaks to me - I have no need for speech - I have nothing sensible to say.

From there on it was dumb man walking. Hyper-attentive and over-stimulated I took it all in - every room a revelation and an immersion, seeing and hearing nobody - taking it all in - a pair of eyes and a mind.

Really - I have no words.

THE REAL THING - ish - better still go to the exhibition if you can - you may never get another chance

1 comment:


    For you :-)