Beyond Representation

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Pink Sky
cosmic landscapes,painting, acrylic on canvas, sky, atmosphere, infinite space,landscape features, colour, form, pink sky, solitary walks, contradictions, constant motion, mind and heart, centre of being, artist materials, divine state, abstract concepts, spiritual world, physical world,transcendence, divine state

Art critic Terrence Heath has described Otto Rogers’ paintings of the late 1960s and early 1970s as “cosmic landscapes, since the compositions have very low horizons and vast expanses of sky. Cloud-like objects, specks and particles float in this open atmosphere, serving as indicators against which infinite space can be measured.” (Heath, 1973)

start quoteLandscape found meend quote-- Otto Rogers

Landscape features may appear in his paintings, but Rogers has rejected the idea that he can be called a  landscapeA painting, photograph or other work of art which depicts scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers and forests. There is invariably some sky in the scene. ( Landscape is also a term that may also refer simply to a horizontally-oriented rectangle, just as a vertically-oriented one may be said to be oriented the portrait way. (  painter. “They (the landscape features) are identifiable points that are natural to him because he has observed such objects as a child,” Heath notes in his essay, The Cosmic Landscapes of Otto Rogers. Those features were the colours and forms he saw around him as he walked to his one-room school in the morning, and when he gathered the animals from the fields in the evening. Does Pink Sky reflect the influence of those solitary walks at sunrise and sunset? Anyone from the prairies would say “Yes!” There’s more to the  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (  than that, however. The following reminiscence from Rogers’ childhood provides some clues as to what he was trying to convey on canvas. (Heath, 1973)

“During the daily walks I felt often the most intense contradiction, to be near and yet to be far,” Rogers once said. “Overhead the birds were in constant motion – they had wings. In all seasons by instinct, these wings carried them to their nest. I wondered if the mind and heart had wings, or if those great centres in our being were our wings.”  (Rogers in Southern Alberta Art Gallery exhibition catalogue, 1978)

The images Rogers used to describe his thoughts – birds, wings, the centre of our being – are of a man trying to capture  abstractImagery which departs from representational accuracy, to a variable range of possible degrees. Abstract artists select and then exaggerate or simplify the forms suggested by the world around them.  (  concepts in words. He also attempted to express those same elusive ideas with paint and canvas; to discover the  unityPrinciple of design which, when used successfully, generates the feeling that all parts of an art work are working together.  of the spiritual world and the physical world using  acrylicSynthetic paints, with pigments dispersed in a synthetic vehicle made from polymerized acrylic acid esters, the most important of which is polymethyl methacrylate. First used by artists in the late 1940s, their use has come to rival that of oil paints because of their versatility. They can be used on nearly any surface, in transparent washes or heavy impasto, with matte, semi-gloss, or glossy finishes. Acrylic paints dry quickly, do not yellow, are easily removed with mineral spirits or turpentine, and can clean up with soap and water.(  paint, brushes, rags, scrapers or sponges.

“The artist takes materials, which are in themselves basic and simple,” says Rogers, “and encourages them to take on new qualities and meanings of a higher order. In essence, the materials transcend their limitations and through ordered  compositionArrangements of elements in a work of art.  reach a state that, to many artists, reflect a divine state.”  (Zepp, 1982)

additional resources Influence of Bahai Faith
Duration: 1:30 min
Size: 6386kb
Painting Over 50 Years
Duration: 2:15 min
Size: 9278kb
Pink Sky
Duration: 3:07 min
Size: 12894kb
Spiral Relationships
Duration: 1:27 min
Size: 6188kb
Teaching Part 1
Duration: 2:20 min
Size: 9853kb
Teaching Part 2
Duration: 1:18 min
Size: 5505kb
Teaching Part 3
Duration: 1:21 min
Size: 5580kb
Teaching Part 4
Duration: 1:09 min
Size: 4771kb
The Four Ways to Knowledge
Duration: 3:01 min
Size: 12665kb
Things to Think About
  • Does viewing Pink Sky remind you of watching a sunrise or sunset?
  • What do you think Rogers meant when he said landscape found him?
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Spirituality can be expressed through many aspects, including religious belief. Otto Rogers’ work is grounded in his deep roots in the Baha'i faith (for more information on the Baha'i faith, go to The Baha’is website ( or to (

  • Think about what inspires you in nature. What do you think is beautiful?  What moves you? A flowing river, a prairie sunset, a flower garden, or a field of wheat?  For example, Saskatchewan is known as the “land of living skies” and people around the world talk about Saskatchewan’s skies.

Heath, Terrence.  ‘The Cosmic Landscapes of Otto Rogers.’  Canadian Art, February/March 1973.

Moppett, George.  ‘Otto Rogers: Paintings, Collages and Assemblages 1973-1982.’  in Otto Rogers: A Survey 1973-1982.  Exhibition catalogue. Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1982, p. 7.

Southern Alberta Art Gallery (author unknown).  Otto Rogers: Paintings and Sculpture 1977-1978.  Exhibition catalogue. Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, Alberta, 1978.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning