Speaking of rooms in an art gallery; it happened some years ago, before the Tate was split into the Tate Britain and the Tate Midden, that I walked into a room of drear sullen Rothko tat, wherein a seated young woman eyed with a dull bovine gaze the ghastly negations.
It took but a moment to realise that I had stumbled upon a scene and circumstance worthy of the Classics - for this room could be nothing other than the Suicides' Antechamber.
That place where those despairing of life come for final confirmation of the pointlessness and worthlessness of existence. Where being made to suffer the lassitude of spirit, and the awful vacuity of mind that are the inevitable enfeebling concomitants of viewing dullness made actual, serves to encourage the hesitater to take the fateful step.
I immediately felt that Common Humanity required me to offer this desperate young woman what help I could.
However I was entirely unprepared for the situation; I did not have a packet of sharp razors upon me, nor a bus timetable for the busy road outside, nor an address for a rope makers, or a chemists willing to sell more than a fatal dose, and no, not even a table of high tides for the nearby river.
I could have led her outside and given her directions to the nearest tube station with its electrified rails, or pointed out the numerous nearby tall buildings from which she could throw herself, but sadly I did neither of these things.
For in the event British Reserve prevailed, and I quietly withdrew from that solemn byre, leaving her to her blank-eyed bromidic stasis.
Post script to the above.
After posting the above few paragraphs about the young woman and the Rothkos at the Tate (which is, by the way, a true story) it was brought to my attention that Rothko was a suicide, a fact of which I had previously been unaware.
I have never been a fan of the 'Artist-as-soap-opera-character' school of justification. My opinion of the works of, for example, Beethoven or Tchaikovsky were not in any way altered by learning that the latter was a fairy and that the former suffered deafness for a significant portion of his life.
Their works are excellent without benefit of soap opera sympathy vote.
Irrespective of his fate Rothko's 'work' is drear sullen tat.