California Dreamin.’ No people here, though. Only smooth linearity and cool contrasts. If it weren’t for the live-edge, vivid color I’d turn away from these surgical lines. But there’s a mystery here so I’ll bite.
Sink down, down through the linear elements. The flat turquoise sky, faintly lined. The terracotta boxed house. The tan expanse of pool deck. The aquamarine pool. All stack on top of each other, neat blocks with no beginning or end. The right and left sides of the canvas push out infinite edges. Lest all this eternity disturb us, Hockney adds two vertical palms with quirky feathered tops. Rests our eyes. Another bristled stretch of grass to soften the lines. I notice the director’s chair, a silent judge sitting. A clue.
Everything static still. Listen to the heavy heat breathing and the cicadas’ distant chatter. A yellow diving board slices diagonally through the water and something careens off, diving or cannonballing. A big, big splash. A very large person or a not-person?
Watch the scale of the splash. It’s quite high, as high as the house or higher even. It appears larger because it’s closer to us and the house smaller because it’s farther away. But Hockney is playing with perspective. He intentionally flattened it out with the linear elements, but now baits our depth perception with this gigantic splash.
The chair is sooo small, so far away. The splash, tsumnamic in proportion. Is the splash so close to us? Then pool and deck must be very long indeed. Yet they appear too thin in terms of width and we don’t seem close enough to the splash to get soaked. Terrible Hockney to tease us so.
I’m working up a sweat; my toes curl around the pool’s edge. I’m gonna make a wave myself. Geronimo!
Sleek caps, bathing suits that suit to a tee. Gives me pause, tells me to cast a wary eye. Vibrating-colored gals ready to splash, but smiles have evaporated (except Miss Peach Fest Queen, 1989). Why? The dissonance is killing me. Here’s a 20 second soap for each pair.
Red swimsuit– athlete. Good too. Placed in last year’s local Danskin triathalon. Her friend, Green, clasps anxious hands. Red talked her into doing this year’s race and she’s afraid she’s not up to snuff. (But it’s on her bucket list) Worried Red won’t win because she’ll slow her down. A forever slow poke.
Leave it to grinning Ms Peachy Queen 1989 to strike a nail-perfect pose, as average mom Jan looks away. How can she compete? A scoreboard ticky-tack tallies in both of their heads. Jan’s kids are smarter; husband drinks less. Peachy Queen’s girls have more tiaras; her husband’s a golf pro. Both uncertain winners in an unquiet friendship, silently nitpicking. Always game on.
Mean girl in red hat does not like what she is seeing. At all. Hayley, that slut, sitting on her soon-to-be ex’s lap. Blue holds her by the shoulders, pulling her back. Warns her to not do something she’ll regret. But she’s going to tell them off come hell or high water. What’s a little mosquito like regret to stand in the way of her lips ablaze?
Mother and daughter. Sadness stares out from the black suit. Seems she faces something unfaceable. Her daughter embraces her, an attempt to protect her from the whittling tides of illness and grief. She looks away, her eyes out searching — over the water for hope’s little horizon.
Not to be missed in Madrid, the Thyssen Museum. This was my first real live Rothko and I fell for it, hard. Ambling around the bottom floor galleries, I felt very lost trying to interpret modern art and suddenly, “Heelllooo big guy.” Tall, dark and green, it swept me off my feet. A mesmerizing pool of color. Go ahead. . . stick your toe in the water and swirl it around a bit (the green square is about the size of a plastic kiddie pool). And I’ll tell you how to love Rothko.
First of all, you must ask your mind to step back. This painting is like an “Ohm” in color. A portal into yourself (going where no man has gone before) and if you listen to your brain flip-flopping “What is this. . I can’t understand it . .What is he doing here?” You’ve totally missed it. Don’t try to “figure it out” which is a relief actually. Noggin, take the bench, heart you’re up.
You are experiencing yourself and the color together. What if you become the canvas, feeling the green and purple wash over you and all the emotions that happen. Tip into the green and splash down into it. Let your soul fingers touch the edges where the purpley maroon meet the green shoreline. Feel all the layers of color lap up against you.
Now what do you see? Your grandmother’s green sweater and the smell of her perfume, the softness of your son’s favorite blankie, your lover’s eyes. For me green = life and this makes me desperately want to be “alive.” Rothko invites you on an inner journey. The color, your guide; a baptism in jade. Skinny dipping in a Rothko.