Mark Rothko, Black on Dark Sienna on Purple, 1960
Mark Rothko, Black on Dark Sienna on Purple, 1960

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to see the Abstract Expressionist show at the Art Gallery of Ontario here in Toronto. The highlights for me were the shadowy hues of rich purple and maroon canvases from Rothko’s later career. I stood in front of three of these massive paintings that hung in the low light. As I watched the colors vibrate around the edges, I noticed that there was a definite inner response. Although I could not label it, it was a kind of call, invoking a feeling of mystery, and inviting contemplation, silence and reflection. There was a here-I am-and-in this place kind of feeling. I avoided interfering with the process by thinking about it; I just presented myself, and allowed the impression to cut more deeply. It occurred to me that I was receiving a gift. A reminder, that every moment is an opportunity to enter more deeply into the soft silence that lays waiting, behind the surface of our lives.

Mark Rothko once wrote: “When I was a younger man, art was a lonely thing. No galleries, no collectors, no critics, no money. Yet it was a golden age, for we all had nothing to lose and a vision to gain. Today it is not quite the same, it is a time of tons of verbiage activity, consumption. Which condition is better for the world at large, I will not venture to discuss. But I do know that many of those who are driven to this life are desperately searching for those pockets of silence where we can root and grow. We must all hope we find them.”

May you find numerous pockets of silence this summer.


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Elizabeth Scuphamreply
July 25, 2011 at 7:39 pm


Deborah Barlowreply
July 27, 2011 at 7:22 am

We are drinking from the same stream in so many ways. Thanks for this Luke.

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