No. 2 [Untitled]

Rothko Museum Collection

In 1947, Mark Rothko (1903–1970), later hailed as the father of abstract expressionism, transitioned to his signature style of colour field painting and refused to keep titling his artworks. From then on, he would distinguish them strictly by ordinal numbers or dominant colours. “Silence is so accurate,” he said, as if fearing that words could affect the viewer’s mind and imagination. He felt that titles were needlessly limiting people’s perception and unduly restricting the viewer’s freedom of thought and interpretation.

Conceptually, No 2 [Untitled] at the Rothko Museum builds on the tenets of Mark Rothko’s creative philosophy – rejecting specificity in form and abandoning symbolism in description to call attention to colour and highlight its impact on our spiritual world. Chromatic variance in Rothko’s art, the subtle interplay of colours, the softest edges of the delicate transitions and the multi-layered depth combine to wow the viewer with an extraordinary range of intonation, awakening a spectrum of intense emotions. Rothko relied on colour, width and breadth of scale, and surface saturation to trigger deep emotional responses in his viewers.

The current exhibition manifests the variance of grey in Latvian and international art whilst challenging ingrained assumptions about its blandness and questioning its groundless labelling as commonplace and dull. The colour choice was no coincidence because the last year of Mark Rothko’s life was when he made two series of paintings, Brown on Grey (acrylic on paper) and Black on Grey (acrylic on canvas) – his final study of the many shades of grey and their configurations. The so-called ‘dark period’ marked an end to Rothko’s lifelong creative pursuits. Severe illness and looming confrontation with death reinforced the dimension of struggle and profound emotional depth in his later creative output and led him to what would become his final artistic step forward, into the great unknown.

The new display is a compelling testament to Rothko’s time-defying excellence and solid proof of his enduring and inspiring impact on generations of artists worldwide.

No. 2 [Untitled] is the second permanent exhibition from the Rothko Museum collection displayed on its premises in what is becoming a watershed moment for this outstanding arts and culture institution. The change of name and the new state-accredited museum status confirm that the former Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre has been a successful player on the global cultural scene and is ready to scale new heights. A decade of experience, an expanding network of local and international partnerships and a rich collection of art in diverse visual mediums make a perfect springboard for a decisive leap forward into a new phase of growth and development rooted in ever-broadening forms of cooperation.

Featured artists: Valda Podkalne, Edgars Vērpe, Frančeska Kirke, Sandra Krastiņa, Vija Zariņa, Elga Grīnvade, Ingūna Liepa, Rihards Delvers, Māris Upzars, Zigurts Poļikovs, Mārīte Kluša, Nele Zirnīte, Jānis Murovskis, Ilze Lībiete, Kaspars Geiduks, Oskars Jansons, Ieva Lapiņa-Strazdīte, Romualds Gibovskis, Vladislavs Grišins, Alnis Stakle, Andris Zēgners (Latvia), Petra Heitkötter, Manuel Schroeder (Germany), Ramūnas Čeponis, Romualdas Balinskas (Lithuania), Kang Haitao (China), Anna Podlewska-Polit, Anna Szprynger (Poland), Beate Gjersvold (Norway), Inga Heamägi (Estonia), Brian Kakas (US), Hjördis Haack (Denmark), George Meertens (The Netherlands), Masaaki Ohya (Japan).

Exhibition period: 29 September 2023 – 2026