Without gods and monsters, art cannot enact a drama
While, I fail to believe Rothko felt there should literally be gods and monsters as objective images, his intonation regarding art stands. Tension, conflict and potential drives any stirring composition. Don't get me wrong, there is conflict within stillness...if it is done right. There is that potential, or uncertainty, that drives the emotion of a composition without overt action--that many artists should learn. I feel that some of the subtle power of the Dutch Masters could easily translate into the gripping action of our modern fantasy illustrations.
Well, what I am really on about is that I feel fine art and illustration share a lot more in common than people would have you believe. I'm not talking about the intention, or the artist statements, or even the venue; I'm talking about the actual compositions themselves. They consistently inform the other. Trends set and reverse based on the periphery of the age: the matchboxes and place-mats of pop culture. So even the methods become intrinsically tied, through devotion, if not in spirit.
Our gods and monsters derive from the explainable to the unknown. From the friction of conflict. From the blunt terror of unbridled ignorance that so tastefully informs our discomfort, fear, love, and awe. For it is not in our understanding that makes things great; but, in our lack of understanding. That is why Benjamin's mechanical reproductions still hold nuggets of truth even in this more modern era. As soon as our periphery slips from the corner of our eyes, right into the hash-marks of our consciousness, it loses its luster and is discarded again to be picked up again in our little red wagon of nostalgia. Ever so is the trend and labels of our arts...even going back to Lascaux and our prehistoric doodling.
But, never let it be said that we didn't try to make it great. To instill the drama of humanity into the vast unknown. The unknown into the unknown. The god into the monster. The drive.
David Paul Simcox