Bill Rodgers / A Separate and Pleasant View

Opening Reception / Friday / 6 March / 6-8 pm
Exhibition / 6 March – 10 April / 2020

Norberg Hall is pleased to present this latest body of work by senior Canadian artist, Bill Rodgers.


A Separate and Pleasant View is a series of works that explores aspects of the looking glass. More specifically, it considers the nature of reflection as image or an aid to image or object. The social history of private reflection, as in aspects of race, class, belief, and gender, is also part of this project and partially informs the process. Reflection is held in two categories according to writer Rebecca Shrum : reliable and unreliable. In The Looking Glass, mirrors and identity in early America, she defines reliable as a reflection in a glass surface with silver backing, and unreliable as to any other reflective surface. The former is known as a looking glass, the latter a mirror. Shrum’s historical distinction follows the development of reflection as a matter of technical advancement and evolving social norms.


This series of works then, proposes a number of situations that set reflection as either active or passive compositional/conceptual elements. For example, the insertion of a looking glass into a constructed painting actively asserts a separate view of the work and its surroundings. Employing a rough mechanical copy of a photograph of a reflection taken at night as the basis for the paintings in this exhibit, a passively formed foundational edit is created on which which to build upon. Considering a looking glass as a domestic article that provides a reflective view separate from the surroundings it inhabits, actively presents a pleasant visual conundrum. It follows that the reflected image is centre stage, with all else off stage or behind the scenes. The edges or borders if you will, between the reflective image and its supportive apparatus, presents a critical conceptual division. The potential for metaphor is also present: what is seen when a looking glass is shrouded in black cloth, or when a prized domestic looking glass is used in armed conflict, or more obscurely a sinking ship is mirrored in the midst of a work of art? Perhaps the most interesting example of this would be a pilgrim’s mirror. This was small reflective device that was used in pilgrimages for the private viewing of a relic. It was believed that a reflection of a relic increased the power of a saint for instance, and if the mirrored reflection was captured and stored in a jewelled case, the power of the relic could be transported elsewhere. – Bill Rodgers / 2020

Bill Rodgers is a senior Canadian artists, based in Calgary.  For nearly 50 years, he has contributed to this city’ and nation’s art scene; both as a painter and instructor at the Alberta University of the Arts (formerly ACAD).  Bill’s work can be found in collections such as the Department of Foreign Affairs (Ottawa), Royal Bank of Canada (Toronto), Alberta Foundation for the Arts (Edmonton), Nickle Art Museum (Calgary), Norman MacKenzie Art Gallery (Regina), and many more.

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Art Inquiry