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Talking to Nicola Roos

Apr 13, 2017

After launching her career in 2015 through the Erdmann Contemporary gallery, Nicola Roos has gone from relative obscurity as a second-year student at the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Arts to an internationally recognised artist with a particular niche.

Her focus is on colonial history, and her first collection centred around the narrative of Yasuke, a black slave believed to have been of Mozambican origin who became a Samurai under warlord Oda Nobunaga in 16th century feudal Japan.

“My interest in colonial history was sparked by the little-known narrative of Yasuke and the myriad of socio-cultural implications that ripple outwards from the remarkable man in Africa and abroad,” says Roos.

Through her art, Roos has managed to bring to light historical events that are not popular subjects. “I investigate the origins of civilisation and society, as well as the ever-changing politics of national identity, collective memory and cultural belonging in the post-colonial world.”

When Roos enrolled at Michaelis with the goal of becoming a curator, she had no idea that she would one day be celebrated for her art academically and otherwise. For her final year exhibition, which was a creation of five female figures and objects, she scored 95% and also received a Michaelis prize for outstanding work. “A Michaelis prize is like everyone’s dream. I was so happy to receive it, it’s quite an honour and it shows that people find my work interesting.”

During her debut year, she managed to sell all the work she had exhibited for the 2016 Art Fair under the auspices of Erdmann Contemporary. She had four sculptures to show; two were bought by private collectors in Cape Town, one by a Mozambican private collector and the last one was bought by a former director of the Brooklyn Museum in New York, also a private collector.

She has since managed to keep the momentum going and hopes still to better her craft. “I think I’ve been very fortunate, having been able to participate in an international market, especially at this age. I would like to take my art further, get more international recognition and travel throughout South Africa and the world.” 

Last modified on Thursday, 13 April 2017 09:08
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