Saturday, November 12, 2016

Red: Ming Dynasty / Mark Rothko

                    Dish with copper-red-glaze 祭红釉盘, 
               China, Jiangxi Province, Jingdezhen
                Ming Dynasty,  Xuande (1425-36) period

They’re 500 years apart, an imperial Chinese porcelain dish and a painting by Mark Rothko. Being juxtaposed, these two pieces of art demonstrate that the power of color transcends time and place, which for me is a profound enlightenment.

                  (Untitled – Seagram Mural sketch Painting, Mark Rothko 1959)

The artworks are perfectly exhibited. Only the dish and the painting in the room! Even exhibit text is on the walls of a separate chamber. Without any distraction and without any knowledge of what they are,  one is invited to the pure experience of the artworks. And you immediately feel the visceral dialogue between the porcelain dish and the oil and acrylic painting -- they uncannily echo each other!

Luminous. Luscious. Velvety.

I indulge myself in the immensity of the color red, almost weeping.

The single word "red" cannot really tell the subtlety and nuances, it's an alchemy of color, texture, shape and edge! What's more, all of the different tonalities of red could have the power to open your emotions, "making you feel happy, sad, everything.” (Jan Stuart)


For “quiet contemplation and intelligent comparison," go to see this exhibition curated by Jan Stuart. Thanks to her unlimited imagination and great taste, we could have such a visual feast.

  (“Red: Ming Dynasty/Mark Rothko” is on view in the Sackler Gallery through Feb. 20, 2017.)


1. Chinese monochrome porcelains are among the greatest achievements in world ceramics, and no color is more complex to create and more coveted than the luscious copper-red glaze that was perfected during the reign of the Xuande Emperor (1426-36). The triumph of this glaze lies in its combination of color and texture. Millions of trapped, unbroken bubbles suffuse the glaze with a network of dark speckles. Subtle color irregularities make the smooth glaze resemble freshly crushed raspberries and look as if it would be plush and velvety to the touch.

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