Our Red Planet: Anna Bogatin Ott

I strive to give the viewer an experience of serenity and calm, a safe, private space to contemplate, to heal, to connect to a greater whole. I hope by experiencing my work the viewer will find peace and joy. – Anna Bogatin Ott

Ukrainian-born abstract painter, sculptor, and digital artist Anna Bogatin Ott captures the sublime in nature and the complexity of human existence. This exhibition showcases her most recent work, informed by NASA images from Mars and the moon; her meditations on the COVID-19 pandemic; and the war in Ukraine.

imageGlorious Truth (part 2) River Reporter, August 2022 (2), 2022. Anna Bogatin Ott (born 1970). Metallic paint on newspaper, 12 13/16 × 19 7/8 inches. sheet: 13 5/8 × 20 7/8 in. (34.6 × 53 cm). Courtesy of the artist. © Anna Bogatin Ott.

The artist explains, “In the process of preparing for this exhibition, the outside world was getting increasingly more agitated with different political events and natural disasters all around the globe. The war in Ukraine is a devastating and very personal tragedy. Our Red Planet acquired another, more literal meaning. Our planet is bleeding red.” In response, Bogatin Ott introduced quieting works of art, creating contemplative space for reflection and restoration.

Bogatin Ott began studying art at an early age, training first in Russia before immigrating to the United States. Disconnected from unfamiliar cultural references in 1960s American Pop art and postmodernism of the 1980s, Bogatin Ott focused on painting tradition and philosophical content. With further study, she found inspiration in the work of artists who combined execution with spiritual content like Agnes Martin and Barnett Newman. Bogatin Ott’s exploration of Indian tantric drawing offered additional creative direction, opening her practice to abstract imagery and geometric structure that emphasizes the lines and brush strokes in her work.

With seamless applications of acrylic paint and watercolor, Bogatin Ott creates fields of color that shift in hue and tone. The natural world provides endless exploration from flowers to oceans to the sky and beyond. The artist uses details from her own photographs, enlarging and altering the digital image to emphasize subtle variations in outwardly uniform colors. Compositions in blue correlate to the sky and water; reds, yellows, and oranges to flowers and sunsets.

imageLeft to right: Moon_1L21, 2019 – 2022. Anna Bogatin Ott (born 1970). Archival pigment print on aluminum, 12 × 12 inches. Courtesy of the artist. © Anna Bogatin Ott. Mars_15L2B, 2021 – 2022. Anna Bogatin Ott (born 1970). Archival pigment print on aluminum, 12 × 12 inches. Courtesy of the artist. © Anna Bogatin Ott.

Recently, Bogatin Ott became intrigued with images from the NASA Mars exploration. The artist recalls an endless stream of news about space when she was growing up in the former Soviet Union. Today, the universe has simultaneously shrunk and expanded as advances in photography give us access to images of deep space. Bogatin Ott searches through these images, mining photographs in search of the sublime and an understanding of the human condition.

The central creation in the exhibition is a labyrinth that visitors are invited to follow. Bogatin Ott combined the millennia-old form with her photograph of ocean waves. A labyrinth is not a maze but is instead a single winding path used for meditation. Moving through the space is meant to heighten our awareness of our bodies and free our minds from anxiety. As worry dissolves, perception increases. Bogatin Ott explains that when she is painting, she “feels free.” Thus, the labyrinth journey reflects her painting process, a connection that is essential to the result. Our Red Planet invites us into a space of sanctuary and asks us to consider what brings us joy and inspiration.

Margaret Winslow
Chief Curator and Curator of Contemporary Art

Top: Photography by Shannon Woodloe.