Whose Canvas: Noella Roos

Born in Amsterdam, Noella Roos has been drawing dancers for 25 years; the last six years with modern dancers in Bali. For her, art seeks to express the meeting between the dancer and the visual artist, to meet in emotion and sensuality and to translate this onto the paper.
You work closely with dancers. Why do you choose dancers as subjects?
Dancers are moving, and moving makes a drawing alive. I don’t work with posing model because these are fixed ideas, not feelings. I have no fixed concept when I start to work, but during the working process, I start to meet the dancer. Is he happy, depressed, in love, or is he just lost his love? Dancers express that in their dance, and I use that energy in my drawing. I draw almost every day, four hours, as quick as the dancer dances. I like to meet the dancer without words. We do this through a strong connection, a kind of trance.
You once said, “Sensuality is the core of my drawings”. How does it connect to your work?
For me, in my work, it’s a very important point. By sensuality, what I mean is the five senses that are used to make my works. I love the idea that you can smell my dancer via my drawing or listen to my dancer’s cry in the drawing. But I also found sensuality back in soft and hard form in the body from my dancer, and hopefully in my drawings.
Can you describe how you feel about your new works?
Well, I can describe this better when they are hanging in a gallery because my studio is too small to see them all together. But I’m really excited about the size of the drawings. I never did such large drawings. Also, when they’re hanging together, the drawings will form a dance, and I hope that my paintings also dance with them. For the future, I like to work on more free lines; not so much outlines and shapes, but more lines in the body. I worked this year with two people, and that was amazing; four arms, four legs, so much to see. I really hope to explore that more. With my paintings, I want to become looser.
Drawing or painting?
It’s like having two children whom both I love, but it looks now that they are going to work together.
Lastly, what is it like to work as a female artist in an art world that is dominated by men?
I never think of myself as a female artist; just as an artist. I’m always surprised when people think my drawings are made by a man. I will never join a female artist group because I see no reasons why we have to separate. But it’s true; it’s still a man’s world in the art, also in Indonesia. Time to change!


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