On a recent trip to the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, I witnessed a peculiar spectacle. A man who had been sitting cross-legged in front of a painting stood up and began shouting. The sound was a kind of incantation, which shattered the chapel’s silence. Attendants quickly hustled him outside and amid the noise I saw that he was wearing red shoes which appeared to be mismatched.
The man’s head was shaved and he wore a baggy sack of faded overalls. Perhaps it was his odd shoes or the way he nervously fingered his gold earrings – he had several – that made me follow him. When I approached him outside, in the glare of the Texan sun, he told me he’d shouted: ‘We are homeless, homeless.’ He said the words were lyrics from Paul Simon’s Graceland 1986, and that having attended the infamous album tour amid anti-apartheid protests in 1987, he had never forgotten them.
What music can you hear in Rothko’s art? – Nathan Dunne – Aeon