By Mike Pomranz
Updated July 11, 2016
Credit: © Henry Hargreaves and Caitlin Levin

Mark Rothko is a legendary figure in the field of modern art. His imposing canvases abstractly filled with large swaths of color were so revered some were even enshrined in their own chapel. But a couple of artists have been paying tribute to the New York-based painter in a manner that might appeal more to foodies than art historians, recreating Rothko pieces out of rice in a project humorously dubbed “Mark Rice-Ko.”

“The Rice-Ko project began four years ago when our interest was piqued by the news reports of a famous Rothko painting being defaced in London’s Tate gallery,” artists Henry Hargreaves (whose food-related work we’ve showcased before) and Caitlin Levin wrote on their website. “It turned out to be one of Rothko’s famed Seagram murals, one of many he was commissioned to do in 1958 by the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City.”

The artists drew inspiration from that ultimately failed commission: Rothko originally agreed to paint 30 works to be displayed in the restaurant, but later decided not to hand over the paintings, called the “Segram” series, and returned all the money after realizing the disgust he had at the idea that these works would only be seen by New York’s richest and most elite.

From there, Hargreaves and Levin’s project took two forms: First, they recreated works from Rothko’s “Segram” series out of rice. But after hearing this year’s news that the Four Seasons was set to change locations, they decided to reverse the perspective and created pieces that represent “an iconic element or dish from the restaurant’s history and even contains rice from the restaurant’s kitchen.”

Alright, sure, it’s all a little heady. If it’s too much for you to bother wrapping your head around, at least know this: They are crazy ass murals made from freakin’ rice! That alone is pretty cool, right?