Noella Roos

Noella Roos

Noëlla Roos (born 27 January 1969, Amsterdam) is a Dutch painter.

Try to place the drawings and paintings of Noëlla Roos in a contemporary context, and you will be disappointed. The studious, energetic drawings of dancing figures and the exotic, theatrically flavoured paintings seem to be unrelated to our daily surroundings. Although Noëlla’s search for universal emotions is in principle timeless, even the contemporary, baseball cap wearing boy evokes a nostalgic feeling and seems rather to have stepped out of the 19th century.

Dominiek with baseball cap, 68 by 61 cm.jpg

Born into a family of artists, her talent was nourished and stimulated from early childhood. In this artistic environment Noella was given every chance to fully develop her visual qualities. As a result her paintings and drawings betray a classical and technical basis that is seldom seen in the current generation of artists. At the Dutch art academies, after all, personal development is strongly placed before mastery of technique. Noëlla Roos chose her own path, averse to the ongoing ‘trend’. She looks for inspiration in the rich tradition of artists such as Rembrandt, Michelangelo and Käthe Kollwitz.

The oeuvre of Noëlla Roos can be divided into paintings and drawings. Certainly in her earlier work the subjects determine the choice of technique. The dancing figures are drawn in transitory and agile strokes. The movement becomes visible in an abundance of searching, wispy lines. In contrast, the portraits painted in tonal colours emanate a thoughtful and still feeling. A face with an introverted look emerges ghostlike from an undefined background, out of the raw material. In her later work these two worlds fuse. Line and paint will more and more become as one.

Contents

Drawings

In some of the earlier drawings of Noëlla Roos the models are not yet depicted as dynamically as in her later work. Originally the model was fixated in one pose. The drawings are more static, they are almost sculptured works. After the example of Dodeigne she taped her fingers. In this way the work could be blurred in some parts, which attributed to the massive, monumental character of the drawing. The model emerges from the dark streaks as a kind of sculptural landscape.

Her fascination for moving figures gradually led to the development of a technique in which she could convincingly capture the movement. As she mastered this technique, the static model studies of Noëlla Roos were slowly replaced by drawings of dancing figures. Her interest is focused on the muscle movement and the light that falls on the moving body. She continues drawing a dancing model until she can fully fathom the movement of the model. That is why she prefers to work with only one dancer for a long period. In the end she and the model are as one person. At the same time drawing and moving she follows the rhythm of the dance. Then, it is no longer a matter of hard work; thinking and doing have merged together.

When drawing a moving model she tries to capture the movement as soon as possible in the arabesque, in other words the ‘kinetic curve’. Most of the time, this is the imaginary line that runs through the middle of the dancer, the line that would lift the figure by the head as if it were a doll. This line is the basis of all her drawings, but also of her paintings in oil. Already at an early stage this line determines the composition of the final image.

The dance movement is reduced to an uncomplicated basic form, such as a circle or a cross. Through this abstraction the drawing gets a three-dimensional effect. Noëlla Roos looks for the connections, for example between hand and head. She draws these lines literally in her work, and often they are still visible in the drawing.

Circle shape, Boris, 80 by 110 cm.jpg
Cross shape, Toet on turn, 80 by 110 cm.jpg

The connection between arm and leg is visible in the drawings left and right

The movement of the dancer is captured by drawing layer upon layer. Soft, grey, sometimes erased lines remain visible as a kind of afterimage of the movement. Heavy, dark accents represent the muscle tension. Where the muscles are connected to a bone, the line that represents this will be more emphasized.

Because of the continuous changes in the form of the muscles, a moving model is much more interesting than a static model. Each contour of a leg represents a number of muscles. Whether the model is standing on the leg or suspended in the air makes a great difference. Tensed muscles are different in form from relaxed muscles. Which muscles are emphasized by the movement and which are no longer visible?

The inspiration of Noëlla Roos in recent years has come from the emotions and the expressions that the dancers show while they move. Because of the spontaneous movement the personal expression is plainly manifested. This is also the reason that she is fascinated by the kinetic expression of Pina Bausch and the shocking beauty of the Japanese Butoh dance, a dance that represents the emotional expression of the torn soul.


Paintings

In contrast to the ‘transitory’ drawings in which Noëlla Roos searches for the visible emotion of the dancers, in the oil paintings she rather tries to capture the underlying character of the models. Oil paint is a much slower medium than Siberian charcoal, due, among other things, to the drying period. As a consequence the portraits in oils are much more still than the drawings. Since 1998 she has painted portraits with the aim of exploring the inner world of the models. These portraits are not full of expression; the prevailing mood is rather thoughtful and quiet. The figures seldom look directly at the observer; the contemplative look is directed inwards.

The model appears out of nothingness. The background is empty. The studio is in fact also an ‘empty’ space, so that all attention can go out to the model; ‘surrounding noise’ would distract too much. She often deliberately creates voids in the painting. Without any significant boundaries the undefined background changes into the figures. There are no rigid contours that enclose the figures. This openness favours the spatial character and the plasticity in the work. It gives the contemplator room; he/she has the possibility to mentally ‘finish’ the figures. Furthermore, these ‘voids’ strengthen the power of expression. Just as in poetry, the power of expression of a drawing or painting is also determined by what is expressed ‘between the lines’. This is often more interesting than the exact description or display.

By the mainly tonal use of colour the theatrical light/dark contrast is even more shown to its advantage. The face emerges; a patch of light gives the right accent and is placed in exactly the right position. The portrait is not literally painted in, but rather built up from unconnected impasto paint strokes, as a result of which it seems to be vibrating. The illusion remains open so that the non-existing details may be projected into it. This suggestion gives the faces a much livelier expression.

The figures in her work cannot be placed in a contemporary context. With a little bit of fantasy you could place the figures wrapped in cloth in a Biblical story. People from different cultures are dressed in traditional, exotic costumes. Attributes like folding screens, fans and masks emphasize the theatrical image. At the risk of falling into clichés, Noëlla Roos looks for the icons of a culture. When does the tradition replace nostalgia? Although the penchant for the exotic resembles a flight to far places or the nostalgic past - characteristic for Romanticism - her work is devoid of any form of drama. It could better be described as a sober form of Romanticism. The still poetical image transcends the illustrative one.

Combination of paint and drawing techniques

In her recent work the drawing and painting techniques have been combined. The wispy and mobile strokes of the drawing are used as foundation for the painting. On top of a kind of preparatory drawing the transparent layers have been painted with diluted oil paint. The drawing underneath remains visible. This painting technique – oil paint resembling water color – gives the normally static oil paintings an open and unconstrained character. The searching, lively style of the drawing has been absorbed in the paintings.

External links

nl:Noëlla Roos nl:Groep van de figuratieve abstractie


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