Not much more than a week ago, a Russian man called Vladimir Umanets walked into the Tate Modern gallery in London and daubed a message on the painting Maroon on Black by Mark Rothko, whose work often sells for tens of millions of pounds. Umanets claimed to be acting in the name of interventionism, in which followers advocate the right to add and alter existing works to add artistic value. We’ll see what the judge thinks about that.
The incident got artist and food-fiddler Henry Hargreaves thinking, and a bit of research uncovered a strange story involving Rothko and food – which led Hargreaves to produce his latest work. Not averse to subverting either icons or cookery himself, having last been seen at We Heart deep frying an iPad, he has recreated some of Rothko’s modernist murals, including the Segram series – one of which was defaced at the Tate – using coloured rice.
The paintings were originally intended to literally put people off their food as an act of sabotage against a posh restaurant that unwisely commissioned the anti-excess Rothko in the 1950s. Hargreaves and friend Caitlin Levin got to work with the tweezers, producing the pieces you see here. Some are more faithfully recreated than others, but all are singularly unappetising, which means mission accomplished for Hargreaves. Rice one.