Nicola Roos is a multi-talented artist and Curro Durbanville alumnus whose captivating artwork is making an unforgettable imprint on the American art scene.
Her captivating solo exhibition, “A Taste of Salt” was on display at the Simchowitz Art Gallery in Los Angeles on June 24.
The exhibition was a significant success for Roos, highlighting her artistic path and achievements on the worldwide art scene.
She was born in Johannesburg but spent most of her childhood in Cape Town, where she now resides. “A Taste of Salt” has 40 life-sized figurative sculptures, some of which tower over 1.8 metres tall and reflect little-known, but significant historical personalities.
They are adorned with intricate armour, warrior masks, and katanas or swords. Several of her most gripping works are centred on Yasuke, an African Samurai who becomes vital to king Nobung's inner circle, becoming the first — and only — black Samurai in 16th century Japan.
Her greatest sources of inspiration are rich histories, mythology, and philosophy, and she enjoys nothing more than delving into societal systems and the complexities of the human experience.
Roos, who was the only female in a class of 10, immediately earned a reputation at Curro Durbanville for her dramatic arts aptitude and unshakable devotion to going above and above in her projects.
The artist has always been extremely driven, always pushing limits and keeping her friends and instructors wondering about what she could accomplish next, from colourful costumes to mesmerising dance routines and elaborate prop creation.
Her artistic progress goes beyond technique and towards sustainability and eco-consciousness. She has embraced her personal dedication to protecting the Earth and limiting environmental impact as a vegetarian, then later as a vegan.
“The water crisis was a huge wake-up call, demanding serious introspection from us all. It urged me to explore alternative art-making methods that not only aligned with my values, but were also imbued with historical significance. I discovered materials like rubber, for example, which bears the weight of colonial exploitation in Africa,” said Roos.
Her work attempts to promote appreciation for the beauty found in common materials and to build a stronger connection to the environment around us.
She even creates bright hues using natural colours obtained from commonplace ingredients such as turmeric, beetroot, blueberries, eucalyptus leaves, and onion peels. The method provides depth and aesthetic intrigue to her sculptures, while also matching with her commitment to environmentally-friendly practises.
“In a world dominated by instant gratification and the pervasive influence of social media, I believe we have become somewhat disconnected from one another's humanity.
“I want to try and bridge the gap that has been created by our fast-paced, interconnected world, and instead, embrace the human touch,” Roos said.