For about two decades now I have known of the artist-couple Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. All this time I had been aware of their painting styles and have known a bit about their “private” life as a couple. My center of attention has been however only directed towards her. I have appreciated her paintings, her passion, her obsession – her situation in dealing with a difficult life. It has also been known to me that he did not always treat her well. Certainly this tainted my view of him as an artist.
When I heard last year about the upcoming Diego Rivera exhibition at the MoMa, I saw this as an opportunity to find out more about him, thinking, perhaps I even get to see a side, a quality in his work which I have yet to perceive and I might even start appreciating him as well. But months went by and suddenly it was almost time to pack the exhibition back into boxes. Last week I made it to the MoMA.
After a quarter of a century in Europe, being exposed to all types of political memories being worked out there, being in the middle of the reunification of Germany, living amongst their dealing with their role in the second world war, seeing what many German artists say about their history through their works and noticing much architecture speaking of their history, I have an eye for the communist and socialist aesthetic of the time. Rivera emerged as an expressive political artist and was a central figure for the most part during the 30’s and 40’s.
“Dismemberment. State II of IV”
Murals cover walls. ‘Muros’, in the spanish language, are large walls. Well, the word murals says it. I went into MoMA, knowing of its size and its generous architecture for space. Thus was my amazement great, to see that these were not even large paintings, considering what some artists have produced in the last 30 years. Rivera had been brought to New York a couple of months in advance and was given a Studio in which to work, so he could produce now works for the museum. This I mention, of course, not as an argument in criticizing his artistic value and I will neither argue about it, for it nor against it. I was simply surprised. I was also surprised to see that in the expression of his works I perceived violence on part of the state, work, the people against the state and his admiration for the Russian way of life, but nothing about love, although he is claimed to have been a womanizer and was married three times.
“General with Cigar”
Simply put: I was disappointed. Disappointed by his themes, his language of color on the canvas, his brush strokes and his political aesthetic. But being that the exhibition was very small and the works not so big, soon I encountered some people I love, like Gerhard Richter and Francis Bacon; some I appreciate, like Louise Bourgeois, Marcel Broodthaers and Max Ernst, and some I did not know, but enjoyed, like Christian Holstad. All good (and bad) things come to an end, so we left MoMA and just outside the door was Mark Nilsson. A very busy painter that comes here 6 days a week. I enjoyed his serious, dedicated activity, his concentration, but most of us, his handling of the colors and the surface.
So, dear reader, enjoy some painting in its very naked and active form.
Mark Nilsson painting a Portrait in front of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York / May 2012
His left hand, like a sculpture, is often resting
Painting in a busy street in New York City, but highly concentrated
Clothes of Mark Nilsson
Mark Nilsson mixing with brush
Mark Nilsson studying his subject
Mark Nilssons brushes
Reds on Mark Nilssons palette
Blues on Mark Nilssons palette
Edge of Mark Nilssons palette