Both my parents are modern artists. As a direct consequence, my childhood was covered in a layer of art. As a nine-year-old, I had a subscription to the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra; by 11, I had seen more exhibitions than I could count.
As a little girl, I loved spending time in my father’s atelier. I would dress myself in his paint covered overalls and create my own little masterpieces on big piece of paper using any colour I could find.
Despite having two parents who lived and breathed modern art, I always found myself more drawn to less abstract pieces. Works from Edgar Degas and Caspar David Friedrich felt like real life fairy tales. I could look at them for hours, dreaming about pastel colours and ballerinas.
It wasn’t until I saw a collection of Mark Rothko’s work that I fell head over heals with abstract art — finally proving I was truly my parents’ own flesh and blood.
Rothko’s paintings look like coloured squares drawn by a messy four-year-old. His work always felt like the perfect example of snobbish art — meaningless work people rave about only because others do. I couldn’t imagine anyone could ever truly believe these ridiculous coloured blobs had any real artistic value.
I have never been more wrong. The second I stood in front of one of his massive paintings, the colours devoured me. It was as if someone was pulling on my heart strings. The yellows made me euphorically happy; the reds made me feel as if I was watching a glorious sunset on sultry night in Tuscany.
The pieces consisting of dark colours made you grasp for air, as if any dark thought you ever had, any sad moment you had ever experienced, was embodied in those colours in a painting twice your humanly size.
I will never understand how one single man was able to create something that moves so many people in so many ways. That day it was not alone in jumping from one emotion to the other while I moved around the exhibition.
Visitors from all ages, sizes and backgrounds seemed to go through the exact same motions. It was a surreal, almost mystical experience.
The magic in his work comes to life when you find yourself directly in front of it. If there is anything I could advise anyone to do at least once in his life, it is to experience that Rothko magic for yourself.