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  Peter Rogers: A Painter's Progress -
Exhibition Catalogue

Foreword & Acknowledgements

A Painter's Progress offers the viewer a rare opportunity to sample aspects of the entire oeuvre of Peter Rogers. Rogers is perhaps best known for the magical simplified imagery in his Quest series. However, throughout his career he has created beautifully nuanced realist works defined by fine detail such as in his Portrait of Carol. Many of these artworks, including portraits, landscapes, and industrial scenes, were completed as commissions that allowed the artist to finance his continuing work on the Quest. The Quest series is guided by Rogers' search for enlightenment, and for fifty-five years he has devoted himself to telling this story in both paint and language-a visual and intellectual account of his own revelations. This extensive body of work is comprised of intimate studies, majestic tableaux, and existential writings that illuminate the artist's journey.

The Quest compositions are built from simple, direct imagery. The forms are reductive, yet voluminous, with a childlike innocence. For the viewer, Rogers has created "... a journey [towards truth and enlightenment] that has no end" - a mythology of interconnected symbols and spiritual concepts he translates onto the canvas by way of a subtle interaction between hand and mind.

Rogers' work - the literary and visual - has a similar disposition to that of visionary artist and poet William Blake (1757-l827). Both created art that is symbolically rich, prophetic, and infused with mystical undercurrents. Both Blake and Rogers refer to visions as a source of inspiration. A personal, spiritual philosophy also figures prominently in the voice of each artist.

  That love is essential to the creative process is something all artists know, but rarely talk about There   are three forms of love - physical mental, and spiritual - and all three are essential to artists.
       Peter Rogers, A Painters Quest: Art as a Way of Revelation, 1988.

The Roswell Museum and Art Center is pleased to present Peter Rogers; A Painters Progress. This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of Donald and Sally Anderson, Phelps and Ann Anderson, Robert B. and Susan Nelson Anderson, City of Roswell, Pecos Valley Rotary Club, Roswell Museum and Art Center Foundation, Roswell Rotary Club, Roswell Sunrise Rotary Club, and Jenny Sandler. My deep appreciation is extended to our lenders: Donald and Sally Anderson; Phelps and Ann Anderson; Robert B. and Susan Nelson Anderson; Mrs. Robert O. Anderson; the Assurance Home; Atwood, Malone, Turner and Sabin, PA; Bank of America; Bill and Sandra Babers; Paul Bardacke and Lisa M. Enfield; Mike and Pat Craddock; Sue Griffith Davis; Linda Dietz; Eastern New Mexico University Roswell; Mary Ely; Eric Enfield; Kay Enfield; Clara Farah; Margit Good; John and Linda Hinkle; Virginia Watson Jones; Barbara Anderson Kryder; John Lackey; Walter Limacher; Pioneer Bank; Brinkman Randle; Peter and Carol Rogers; and an anonymous lender.

Andrew John Cecil, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, working with Peter Rogers every step of the way, has developed an exhibition that showcases the insightful work of one of New Mexico's most penetrating artists. Other curatorial committee members that have contributed to the success of this exhibition include Caroline Brooks, Assistant Director; Ellen Moore, Ph.D., Curator of Education; Stacie Petersen, Registrar; Candace Jordan Russell, Librarian; and Mike Van Raes, Preparator.

Laurie J. Rule

Director

Artist Statement

PETER ROGERS

"Peter Rogers might get somewhere if only he'd make up his mind what sort of a painter he is." That remark was made many years ago by a patron of mine to my mother-in-law. To anyone looking at this exhibition the remark may well seem justified, for my subject matter is as diverse as can be imagined. Half of it consists of realistic landscapes and portraits, while the other half consists of drawings and paintings that depict a theme that I call "The Quest." By "Quest" I mean the perennial Quest for Enlightenment, for the kingdom of heaven, oneness with God - call it what you will. Clearly a subject like that cannot be depicted realistically, so alongside the realistic work there is work with no pretensions to realism at all.

The latter work has always come first as far as I am concerned because the evolution of consciousness is a subject that, to me, outshines all others in importance for the simple reason that the fate of the human race could well depend on it. However, while the Quest has always been my chief concern as a painter, in order to support my family I have had to undertake all manner of commissions, from the above-mentioned portraits and landscapes to historical murals and paintings of oil wells and copper mines. So as you can see, that patron's remark to my mother-in-law was not quite fair.

I used to think that all the commissioned work that I have been required to do since coming to America -for l was born and brought up in England and only came to America in I963 - might compromise such vision as l could lay claim to, which in the early days was fragile and something that I felt I could easily lose. However, in the long run this juggling between painting what other people wanted me to paint and painting what I wanted to paint worked out pretty well. I say this because had I been able to devote myself full-time to the Quest theme, the subject could have become stale, or I might simply have run out of steam.

As it is, being forced to switch from painting the Quest to painting the stuff of the material world not only kept my feet on the ground but, due to the fact that these commissions have usually taken a long time to complete, when I have finally been able to get back to the Quest, I have gotten back with a bang, by which I mean with renewed energy and sometimes with renewed vision as well. So the commissioned work has in fact benefited the Quest theme. And then there is the fact that had the realistic work not genuinely sparked my interest I could not have done it at all.

THE ROBERT O. ANDERSON
FAMILY (DETAIL)

I have dedicated this exhibition to the memory of Robert O. Anderson. It was he who gave me my first commission when I arrived in the states in 1963, and who thereafter either bought outright or commissioned through ARCO, well over a hundred paintings and drawings and two murals. He was interested in both sides of my work - the Quest paintings as well as the realistic work and when it came to commissions always gave me a completely free hand. I never felt that I expressed my gratitude to him sufficiently. Those commissions generally seemed to come when I really needed them and consequently were essential not only to my survival as an artist, but also to the continued well-being of Carol and the children. Bob - as we all called him - did for me, and my parents-in-law before me, what his brother Donald B. Anderson has done over the past fifty years for the whole town of Roswell and for so many artists-in-residence - he spent his money and put his energy into supporting art and artists. The two of them have indeed been the Medici's of southeastern New Mexico.

Finally, I want to express my most sincere thanks to Virginia Watson Jones of Capitan. It was she who first suggested that l ought to have a retrospective show at the museum. Without her persistence, and Andrew John Cecil's enthusiastic response, I doubt that this would ever have happened.

Peter Rogers

San Patricio, NM, 2011

A Painter's Progress

A Balance of Opposites

"To see the world in a grain of sand and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour "

~William Blake

THREE DANCERS IN A WOOD, 2003

Peter Rogers has chosen to experience life through the visionary eyes of one on a quest. He has made many choices to break with the accepted conventions of the time in order to pursue his own journey both in and out of the studio. The principle that he has come to understand through life's experience and focused intent in his studio distills down to one idea; love. Rogers states "It is a simple choice: we can fail to love, and perish, or we can learn to love, and live - for the rules of the creative process are not to be denied. Love is the universal imperative."

The results of Rogers' artistic search have produced the evocative Quest paintings, and the book A Painter's Quest that explores and defines the conceptual basis associated with his artistic and spiritual vision, His sole source of income for fifty-five years has been his paintings. It is because of his masterful skills of observation and execution as a visual artist that he has received many commissions for portraits, landscapes, and murals. The commissioned work has enabled him to provide for his family and ensure the necessary time to study, write, and paint the visionary themes associated with the Quest.

The mainstream contemporary art world pays close attention to the fashions of the day together with the materialistic hype of the commercial gallery system from which many curators take their cues as to what is in vogue. Rogers' artistic exploration of spiritual narratives does not easily fit into a contemporary market that has been driven by art movements beginning in the l96Os. His commitment to painting the Quest has never wavered, for he considers the Quest series to be his primary concern as an artist. Rogers created a network of economic support that includes commercial galleries, works sold from his studio and commissioned works for private individuals and major corporations. Yet it is the personal connection to his patrons and the friendships that have evolved over the years that have nurtured and sustained Rogers' continued success as a painter. He possesses the unique gift of aesthetic balance. With one foot in the world of representation and the other in the world of imagination, each informs the other.

The Man Crossing A Bridge

"A work emerges in its time and from its time, but it becomes a work of art by virtue of being outside of time."

~Andre Malraux

Born in London, England, on August 24, 1933, Peter Rogers grew up in a middle class family where he came into contact with art and culture at an early age. His maternal grandfather, Harry Marillier, was associated with the Pre-Raphaelite movement and was a recognized authority on tapestry, He managed the textile factory Merton Abby Mills that was founded by William Morris in the late l9th century.

Rogers tells the following story in which, as a little boy, his nanny was pushing him through Regents Park in his stroller. While crossing a bridge over the Regents canal they saw a woman painting at a portable easel down by the canal and Rogers remembers thinking, "One day I'm going to be a famous painter like Shakespeare!"

At the age of seven, Rogers was evacuated during the aerial bombing of London, subsequently being sent to Southey Hall, a preparatory school in Devonshire. The school had been evacuated from its site near London to a grand Elizabethan house filled with art and antiques including the works of Van Dyck, Rembrandt, and a bas-relief wood carving of Samson smiting the Philistine by Albrecht Durer. At the age of thirteen he attended a public school called Sherborne in Dorset where he received an outstanding education that included the study of visual arts. His drawing ability excelled and soon he was rendering a landscape of John Constable with pen and ink. He was not satisfied replicating the work of others and began to develop subject matter of his own. In 1949, he set about composing a pen and ink drawing he called, A Man Crossing a Bridge. The work demonstrates a fertile imagination and a masterful hand by sixteen years of age.

MAN CROSSING A BRIDGE, 1949

Rogers suggests that A Man Crossing a Bridge is a metaphor for what was to be experienced in the coming years. The man has embarked on a journey crossing over the narrow gorge on a rickety old bridge followed by his companion, a small dog. The dog has often been represented in human cultural myth as an intermediary between the physical world and the spiritual world. The windswept figure is in the midst of a perilous crossing only to be faced by a steep climb ahead, with no knowledge of what he and his companion will find at the top of the hill. Where he has come from there is a fence around the cliff; where he is going there is none. Do we choose to go forward into the unknown? Or do we choose to turn around and go back to what we know?

After completing his schooling at Sherborne, Rogers entered National Service in the Army (1952-1954). His rigorous basic training was as a Guardsman in the Welsh Guards. He received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Queen's Royal Regiment,and while serving in the Army he continued to draw, creating many revealing caricatures of the officers in his Regiment.

While on leave from the Army, he met a beautiful young ballet dancer named Jenny. The two hit it off. Correspondence and visits followed for the young couple. In time she would become his fiance. At the end of his National Service, Rogers applied to art schools and was accepted at St. Martin's School of Art in London. Art school granted Rogers the opportunity to explore the various processes that he would employ as a professional artist. In the life drawing classes he honed his skills of observation and prowess as a draftsman. He took up the brush in the second year and developed the formal skills of a painter. He soon realized that his education at Sherborne had not prepared him for his confrontation with 20th century modem art and the axioms that were being proclaimed by the younger art students. Nonplussed by this, he conducted his own exploration of art history that would often include a daily lunchtime visit to the National Gallery, which was just down the street from St. Martin's. He viewed many of the venerated masterpieces of European painting and sculpture. The British Museum and the Tate Gallery also served as fertile ground for viewing art. Two exhibitions at the Tate Gallery had a major impact on him. One was the post-war retrospective of the works of Pablo Picasso, which did much to open his eyes to modern art. The other influential exhibition featured the work of the Mexican muralists Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

In 1956, Rogers left art school to marry Jenny. His course was set to make his living as a professional artist. That year he painted his friend James Parrish, who was willing to stand for hours at a time while Rogers composed a magnificent depiction of his friend. Portrait of James is an optimistic study of a man in the mid-twentieth century.

The portrait was included in the Royal Society of Portrait Painters summer exhibition in 1957 Later it was selected for an exhibition to go on a national tour of England celebrating the contemporary portraiture of the day.

PORTRAIT OF JAMES, 1956

With his successful execution and exhibition of Portrait of James, Rogers realized that if he chose to, he could always make a living as a portrait painter. However he was conflicted. He did not want to be tied to the commercial yoke of a professional portrait painter, yet he needed to make a living as an artist.

This was a turbulent period in his personal and artistic life. It was during this time that he experienced several profound spiritual events that would change his perception of life and his direction as an artist.

He started to create a visual record of these spiritual revelations through his paintings and drawings, which he revised again and again as he sought to understand the universal questions of our human existence and the roles that we play in our daily lives. It became his primary objective to search for a way of depicting the path of life itself, the path that is the way to "Enlightenment."

Rogers recalls a passage from Roger Fry's book Vision and Design,
"The essential power of pictorial as of all other arts lies in its use of a fundamental and universal symbolism, and whoever has the instinct for this can convey his ideas, though possessed of only the most rudimentary knowledge of the actual forms of nature; while he who has it not can by no accumulation of observed facts add anything to the spiritual treasure of mankind."

ARCADIAN SCENE, 1957

The canvases of this period are the beginning of Rogers' figurative exploration into the nature of a symbolic representation. The paintings are stylistically akin to the expressionistic works of Goya, Daumier, Rouault, Redon and Picasso. These expressive modernist compositions were the initial investigations into the development of a "mannerist style." In his 1957 painting Arcadian Scene, Rogers depicted an idyllic view of woman and man in nature. The classical formality of the composition is a counterpoint to the rough-hewn handling of the paint, which casts a sculptural quality of shadow and light used to define the figures set in an infinite landscape. The modernist tension that is created underscores the poetry of the pastoral view, with the overflowing basket of grapes and the suggestion of the flute's melodies after harvest's labor.

Facing the economic difficulties of an artist's life, Rogers and his wife Jenny often found themselves living on the bare necessities. Unable to afford a proper studio, Rogers painted in their bedroom. Jenny and her fellow dancers often served as models. They posed for the major canvas painted during this period, The Crucifixion, completed in 1957.

THE CRUCIFICTION, 1957

The President of the Royal Society of British Artists happened to see The Crucifixion hanging in a church in London. He was so taken by the emotional power of the painting that Rogers was subsequently nominated to the Society and became a full member at the age of twenty-four. Rogers served on various committees and exhibited with the Royal Society of British Artists from 1957 until 1960. The seventeen canvases that he submitted to show at the annual exhibitions included biblical scenes, portraits, still life, and the early progenitors of the Quest series.

By 1958, Rogers became dissatisfied with creating romanticized views of an idyllic world and began to generate canvases that delved into his personal reaction to man's inhumanity to man. This became an, obsession with him and led to a series of paintings that he called Images of Evil, These early compositions were based on the soldiers at the foot of the cross from his crucifixion painting. The paintings of this period have a relationship to the works of Francisco Goya, with the fantastical sense of brooding giants in a stormy landscape. These dark paintings have a deep foreboding that is reflective of the social and cultural changes that were underway.

IILLUSION OF SEPARATENESS, 1960

Troubled by the negativity of his Images of Evil, Rogers began searching for a positive counterpart. He describes what happened as follows; "I knew the answer wasn't an Image of Good. It was only when I came to a certain realization - how I came to it I will not go into - that I got my answer. The realization was that my Images of Evil represented nothing more threatening than the Illusion of Separateness (ie. from God). The counterpart I had been seeking, therefore, had to be the Understanding of Oneness (ie. with God).

"At a loss for a better solution, I tried to depict the Understanding of Oneness by means of three outward facing women in contrast to the three inward facing men of the Separateness image. I felt this to be both inadequate and arbitrary especially after I stumbled on the fact that the original Three Muse's of Greek myth were Meditation, Memory and Song, for the three women I had just painted seemed to illustrate these Three Muses precisely and that was not what I had intended to paint at all.

"It was many years later that I discovered the Tibetan Buddhist image of the Three Lords of Materialism, who are Mind, Speech and Form. It then dawned on me not only that the three men of the Separateness image were at last individually identified, but that the Three Muses, Meditation, Memory and Song, were indeed their counterparts, for the two images are in fact symbiotic. For starters, how can the first Lord, Mind, hope to evolve - for, as aspects of ourselves, the Three Lords are clearly meant to evolve-without the help of the first Muse, Meditation? Furthermore, I now realized that the Three Muses are in fact the means by which we come to the Understanding of Oneness."

CHRIST WALKING ON THE WATER 1960

These realizations, however, only came to Rogers long after he came to live in America.

In the meantime the young painter was heralded in London with successive invitations to exhibit his paintings. ln 1960, he was invited to exhibit at London's exclusive gallery of Arthur Tooth and Sons. This prestigious gallery represented Rogers for the next six years providing a source of income that included portrait commissions and gallery sales of his allegorical and religious themed paintings.





The Ascension

"While l recognize the necessity for a basis of observed reality ... true art lies in a reality that is felt."

~Odilon Redon

AT WORK ON ASCENSION MURAL, MOJACAR, SPAIN, 1962

The challenges of the bohemian life for a ballerina and a painter proved too much for the young couple and their marriage ended in 1962. This great loss caused Rogers to embark on a journey to southern Spain, He packed his belongings on a Vespa scooter and rode from London to a coastal mountain town in the Province of Almeria to make a fresh start. It was in the ancient town of Moicar, overlooking the Mediterranean, that Rogers settled and built a house he named Casa de la Madrina. He set up residence and started to paint a mural on an interior wall of his home.

The mural was an attempt to paint a vision that Rogers had experienced in 1960. At the time he felt the vision represented Christ's ascension into heaven, which he saw as a metaphor of 'Everyman's' ascension in consciousness, and this symbolic ascension became, for him, the goal of the Quest. During this period of self-imposed exile, Rogers created many canvases. The painting A Vision (1962), with the evolution of the highly stylized figures, suggests a medieval origin for the composition's narrative. The resonance of the painting's quality of light and the contrasting darkness of the background bring the shining figures to life, reading much like a stained glass window from a Gothic cathedral, extolling the sequential story of the saints.

A VISION, 1962

It was through the experience of isolation in a foreign land that Rogers found new inspiration and a new life friendship. Residing in Mojacar was a young American, Carol Hurd. Peter and Carol met and became friends. Their friendship blossomed. Soon Carol was to travel back to the United States to visit her parents, Peter Hurd and Henriette Wyeth Hurd, at the family ranch in San Patricio, New Mexico. In the early spring of 1963 Rogers packed his paintings for shipment to London and followed Carol to New Mexico.




The Theater of Life

"No knowledge is won without sacrifice."

~Jane Hlrshfield

Rogers arrived in Roswell, New Mexico on a March evening and was met at the airport by Carol and a family friend, John Meigs, After dinner the trio drove the fifty miles west to San Patricio. It was a dark night and it was not until the following morning that Rogers pulled back the curtain and saw for the first time the beauty of Sentinel Ranch and the Hondo Valley. Sentinel Ranch was the focal point for the exciting artistic and social milieu that surrounded the Wyeth-Hurd family. Rogers was surprised to find himself in the middle of an American art dynasty.

He was now in the "Wild West" of irascible characters, pick-up-trucks, bar maids, and pistol toting shenanigans. He had cut himself free from the fetters of the cultural histories of Western Europe. On the ranch he worked as a ranch hand for his future father-in-law, and was up to the task. He and Carol married and began to build their life as a young family, balancing parental responsibilities with the pursuit of Rogers' vocation as a professional artist.

Peter Hurd quickly recognized Rogers' talents not as a cowboy but as a capable young artist. He had proven his merit in London and was open to make his mark by accepting commissions as a professional painter in the United States.

THE HONDO RIVER, 1964

In 1963, Robert O, Anderson, a neighbor of the Hurds, asked Rogers to create a group of landscape drawings of the Circle Diamond Ranch. Anderson gave Rogers "free rein" to depict the subjects he found interesting for the commission. This freedom for Rogers to create set a precedent between the artist and the patron that lasted more than forty years. The series of twelve landscape drawings that were produced for the first Anderson commission demonstrated Rogers' deft ability to observe and record the sublime beauty of southeastern New Mexico. Rogers hiked over the Circle Diamond Ranch with a drawing board and artist kit, searching for suitable landscape compositions to render. The commission was not without its challenges. Rogers relates that as soon as he put pen to the paper, the ink would dry on the nib due to the arid climate. Nevertheless, he persevered through the difficulties of working outdoors to portray the natural beauty of the Rio Hondo's ribbon of life. Robert O. Anderson was so pleased with the results that he paid Rogers more than the agreed price for the drawings.

DRAW WORKS AND SWIVEL, 1969

Robert O. Anderson was the founder of the Atlantic Richfield Oil Company, but he was also a philanthropist and avid art collector. He commissioned, or purchased outright, more than one hundred works from Rogers during a forty-two year period including portraits, the Quest paintings, landscapes, and industrial paintings for Atlantic Richfield Oil Company and the Anaconda Mining Company. Through these companies Rogers received three major commissions over an eleven-year period. The first commission, 1969 to 1971, recorded the development of Prudhoe Bay and the North Slope oil fields in Alaska. Then in 1978, Rogers was commissioned to paint a mural for the Anaconda boardroom in Denver of the Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana. The final commission was in 1980 when Rogers traveled to Mexico where he set up a studio and painted a mural of the Cananea Pit, another copper mine in the state of Sonora in northern Mexico. This mural was for the ARCOMEX offices in Mexico City.

ROUGHNECKS AT WORK, 1970

When Rogers traveled to Alaska to undertake the first of these commissions there was no airport at Prudhoe Bay. The transport plane in which he flew up from Anchorage had to land on an airstrip on the frozen tundra. He was two hundred miles inside the arctic circle and ill-equipped for working in such an inhospitable environment. He put wood alcohol in his India ink to prevent it from freezing, but there was little he could do to prevent himself from freezing, for he had inadequate clothing to protect him from the elements. Having completed eight large pen and ink wash drawings under almost impossible working conditions, he decided to return home and come back to Alaska at a later date better prepared to complete the commission. In the early spring of 1970 he journeyed back to Alaska with Bill Clark, an ARCO company photographer. Between them they took over fifteen hundred photographs and with this wealth of information Rogers completed the commission in the warmth of his San Patricio studio. The ARCO commission was a monumental task yielding thirty seven paintings and thirteen drawings.

MURAL DEPICTING THE HISTORY OF TEXAS (DETAIL), STATE ARCHIVES AND LIBRARY BUILDING, AUSTIN, TEXAS, 1964

Rogers staged an exhibition of the completed works in his San Patricio studio. The response to the paintings and drawings of Alaska and the depictions of the oil installations was tremendous. These paintings serve as a document in the chapters of ARCO corporate history and the industrial development of Alaska's North Slope. They also demonstrate Rogers' masterful skill at representing the material world. Rogers' commissioned work also included a mural depicting the history of Texas for the State Archives and Library Building in Austin. This would be his first institutional commission. lt had been a commission that Peter Hurd had originally accepted but had passed it on to his son-in-law. The thirteen foot by thirty-five loot curved mural was successfully executed in 19611 and because of its popularity Rogers was made an Honorary Citizen of Texas.

The Hermit and the Headgate

"If you want to be successful its just this simple: Know what you're doing. Love what you're doing. And believe in what you're doing."

~Will Rogers

TEXAS TECH MUSEUM MURAL, 1974

In 1974, Rogers accepted another Texas commission to create a mural for the Texas Tech Museum in Lubbock. The theme of the commission was "water." His inspiration for the mural was the site of a small crib dam, part of the aceguia madre (irrigation system) on the Rio Hondo just down stream from his home. The forty-foot drawing of the crib dam was rendered with pen and ink wash. The execution of the immense ink drawing took six months to complete. This iconic representation of the American southwest celebrates the wise stewardship of the land, wildlife, domestic stock, and water. The man at the irrigation headgate is a modern reflection of the age-old tradition of managing the life of a stream to irrigate the fields. This practice sustained the crops planted by the first native peoples of the valley. With the arrival of the Spanish settlers, they too brought their traditions of the acequia system and community governance of the water resource to the Rio Hondo. The success of this mural resides in the unified story that it tells of a community's interdependence with the natural world, allowing reflection into the past, present, and future of our most precious life giving resource in the Southwest.

HERMIT EMPTYING A VESSEL, 1972

Rogers' home along the Rio Ruidoso and the cultural landscape has informed many of his paintings and drawings. It is the melding of the representational work and the mystical imagery of the Quest that finds its source in the Hondo Valley. The depiction of the mayordomo (irrigator or ditch boss) who controls the flow of water through the acequia is a part of the cultural knowledge that has evolved into the iconography that surrounds the image of the man at the headgate. The universality of the symbolic image of the channel that bestows life is instrumental to the development of the Quest's metaphoric figure of the Hermit. The narrative mythology of the Hermit becomes that of life giver, arbitrator, teacher and trickster. Rogers states "A myth is a metaphor of spiritual experience in the form of a story, which so far from being something untrue, in fact implies something very true indeed." Rogers depicts the Hermit's character as one of absolute freedom and calm resolve. The Hermit can be found offering counsel to those on a journey, at the site of a great cataclysm, surfing atop a tsunami, painting a bird, and even watching a UFO take off from behind a tree.

The Necessity of Focus

"Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together "

~John Ruskin

Portraiture has an ancient history of recording the elite and the common visage of an age. This view of the individual becomes our window into the past, providing a sense of who a person was as well as the time in which they lived. The artist's relationship to the subject has always been a key element to the successful outcome for a portrait. Rogers has the extraordinary ability to establish a connection with the sitter and, in doing so, is able to express more than a likeness; he touches the essence of the subject.

PORTRAIT OF CHARLOTTE, POLLY, HESTER, WILLIAM AND ALEXANDRA EVANS, 1989

As a young artist, Rogers made the choice not to pursue the career of a professional portrait artist, yet his natural skills as a portrait painter were put to the test throughout his career both for commissions and for the love of creating a fine portrait. During a trip to England in 1989 he stopped for a visit with his nephew Roger Evans and his family in Yorkshire. Rogers was so taken with his nephew's children that he took a series of photographs to use as source material for a painting of them. Back in the United States he created the composite portrait of Charlotte, Polly, Hester, William and Alexandra Evans. The portrait was well received by the Evans family. Rogers relates that his nephew called him and said that the whole family was "over the moon." "Would that all my portrait commissions had such happy endings!" said Rogers.

PORTRAIT OF CAROL, 2009

His command of portraiture continues to evolve with his 2009 portrait of Carol. The drawing is a beautiful study in time of his partner Carol Hurd. The ease of his representation and the quality of line is reminiscent of the drawings of Albrecht Durer.

 











Images of the Way

"To become truly immortal, a work of art must escape all human limits: logic and common sense will only interfere. But once these barriers are broken, it will enter the realms of childhood visions and dreams. "

~Giorgio de Chirico

ENLIGHTENMENT, 1971

Rogers has followed a distinct pattern over the years. Whenever finishing a major commission he would re-address the theme of the Quest with a renewed vitality. One such productive period was in 1971 upon completion of the Alaska commission for ARCO. Rogers produced the painting Enlightenment at this time. He began to see "the theme in terms of a story, or myth, and all of a sudden the symbols and iconography of the Ouest began to evolve in a new way. This new way had the potential to communicate with more people." The painting Enlightenment marked the beginning of a new breakthrough for Rogers. He states, "Such breakthroughs had occurred in the past sometimes, especially in the early days, initiated by a vision or a voice. These experiences had a huge impact on me, fuelling the evolution of the Quest imagery for more than fifty-five years."

A statement made by the Russian philosopher Peter Ouspensky inspired Rogers. He read it in Ouspensky's book A New Model of the Universe not long after leaving art school in 1956. In it Ouspensky wrote, "Art is a definite way of knowledge. The artist, in creating, learns much that he did not know before." Art, he insisted, should "reveal mysteries" and lead to 'the sphere of the Unknown.'

It is one of the four ways of the spiritual life of humanity. Rogers explained that "I explored the whys and wherefores of that claim in my book A Painters Quest, Art as a Way of Revelation (Bear and Company, 1987), for in my experience as a painter l have found that Ouspensky's words are true: my painting has indeed been a 'way of knowledge," and it has indeed 'revealed mysteries' and led to the 'sphere of the Unknown.' Precisely how it did all this is a story too complex to go into here, but so astonishing were the ways and means, so universal the implications, that I felt almost duty-bound to tell the story, and in A Painters Quest and subsequent writings l attempted to do so. As for the paintings, l hope that they speak for themselves."

Rogers has played many roles in the theater of life, that of husband, father, soldier, author, and painter. All of these life experiences fed his vision as an artist. He has strived to depict a universal understanding of what it means to be human, simultaneously existing in both the material and spiritual worlds. He has achieved this through his dedication as a painter. It is the process of being in one's studio, attending to the birth of an idea. Of being present to the "inspiration" when making the thousands of decisions necessary to draw the line, mix the color, apply the brush, and bring to fruition a work of art that is to be shared with the world.

Andrew John Cecil

Curator of Collections and Exhibitions

THE QUEST 7, 1988

 

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THE QUEST 7, 1988