Red: martial art

Rouge: art martial

Michel Nadeau (Mark Rothko) and Steven Lee Potvin (Ken), the fascinating duo of the play <em>Red</em>, presented to The Broadside.

27 February 2020 15h28

Updated at 19: 02


Red: martial art

Rouge: art martial

Normand Provencher

The Sun


CRITICAL / It is a fascinating and intriguing verbal sparring at which The Lined invites its audiences with the play “Red”. A student-teacher relationship where the veteran Michel Nadeau and rookie Steven Lee Potvin squared off in a debate existential on painting as the ultimate means of expression and survival.

According to a text of John Logan, author of the screenplays for the James Bond Skyfall and The aviator to Scorsese, the part highlights, in the New York of the late 50s, an episode in the life of the famous artist of jewish origin Mark Rothko (1936-1970), then his path crosses with that of a young painter landed to give a hand to his workshop.

Meet men and women with personalities opposite will cause sparks. Rothko is not someone easy. Self-centered to the cube, it will push the apprentice into his last entrenchments, providing to the full lessons on his conception of the art, not hoping to know more about him. Ken remains for him a mere employee, without more.

The irascible master, a disciple of american abstract expressionism, is all the more to notch it down to put the final touch to a mural colossal for the restaurant Four Seasons, the Seagram Building. The contract of a lifetime that leads him to question his decision to give in to the commercialization of his art, o immorality o infamy…

The young wizard will bear the expense of his mood swings. Over the course of his residency, he will win, however, enough confidence to stand up to him. The turning point of their relationship will happen when the two men will team up, for a long time, to paint in red a huge canvas, in the 4th movement of the 41st symphony by Mozart. This red, color fetish of Rothko, who lives in his thoughts. A color that symbolizes life, as opposed to the black, the nothingness. “I fear only one thing in life, young man… One day the black will swallow the red.”

Rare are the parts that deal with as much acuity as the act of creation in painting. Despite a didactisme may be opaque to the layperson, the text comes not least to promote adherence in the face of this flood of ideas and arguments that the two characters embark unceremoniously in the face. Unintentionally, the old fox will contribute to help the young wolf to forge his own personality, his own vision of art, in a kind of transfer of power.

For his return on stage after 11 year absence, the artistic director of The Lined, Michel Nadeau, is not the easy part, as we say, but he gets away with all the honors, skillful to do to hate his Rothko. In front of him, Steven Lee Potvin, his former student at the Conservatory of dramatic art, demonstrated aplomb, knowing how to measure his efforts to provide touching moments of emotion.

How to put value on stage paintings and paintings, not to mention the act of creation itself, does not flow from source. The director, Olivier Normand arrives with a beautiful efficiency.

When the two men are looking at a work, it is the room, the fourth wall, they are looking at. A dim light gave way to a stark light when Rothko wants to grasp the nuances of the colors to be his apprentice. The transitions are inhabited by projections of paintings, in the background, whose works pop-art of Andy Warhol, which make the hair stand on the head of the seasoned painter. “The barbarians are at our gates!”

Any art lover, regardless of his degree of knowledge, will find pleasure in immersing themselves in the many variations of Red and in the reflection of Logan, defended by a duo of ages and experiences different from, but complementary to marvel.

Red is on display at The Lined up to march 21.

Le Soleil

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