ASHKAN ROAYAEE IN COLLABORATION WITH:
Cookie Ashton · Haley Bowen · Rylie Caldwell · Leslie Gaworecki · Jeanne Jones · Marthann Masterson · Julia McLaurin · Amy Malkan · Nergis Mustafa · Barbara Rubenstein · Marlo Saucedo · Carol Simon · Oluseyi Soyege · Pilar Uribe
Ashkan Roayaee is pleased to present Boundless, a group exhibition that celebrates collaboration and diversity and elevates the poetic gestures inherent in dance. Seeking a way to connect and support artists during the pandemic, Ashkan invited twelve Houston-based artists to reimagine and reinterpret his photographic images of dancers. Through the addition of paint, ink, and other various materials the images of dancers are transformed and placed within new narratives extending beyond the picture plane.
The gracefulness and beauty of the dancer definitely inspired how to enhance an already beautiful photograph. My intention was to be inclusive rather than dominate. I used water-based acrylic paints to achieve my purpose.
Through a brief moment of pause and lift, the two bodies create a perfectly balanced and linear composition. There are parallel lines and matching negative spaces. It is a standstill of two forces coming together, the moment of tension belongs simply to his hands and her waist. As I worked over the existing composition, I aimed to capture the magnitude of energy between the male and female dancer, and the transfer of energy needed to create this shape. On top of the cotton rag print, I used tools that would work well with the metallic painted bodies: graphite, white pencil, and white gesso. I was questioning how to evoke motion with a standstill image as a painter, but the fluidity of the mediums I chose and the freedom of my hand placed me in the composition as if I could see the models coming into this shape in person.
This collaboration with Ashkan Roayaee pays homage to the featured principal in the Houston Ballet, Yuriko, who often performs Madame Butterfly. Attaching real butterflies to a wire headpiece, the work creatively interprets Madame Butterfly.
In this collaboration with Ashkan my aim was to celebrate the passionate, blissful expression upon the dancer’s face. She looks to be floating in such an ethereal way that I wanted my brushstrokes to simply enhance her buoyancy. The remnants bouncing off of her fingertips and creating an arc overhead represent an angelic moment in which her world is at complete peace.
I’ve always loved Ashkan’s photos of dancers in the city. I think it’s the push and pull between softness and strength that gets me: the emotions in the dancer’s movement against the stoic buildings, gentle poses created with tensed and hardened muscles, soft pink ballet shoes against hard grey concrete.
In this case, the swirling movement of the dress around Gloria while her gaze is so steady drew me to the original photo. I wanted to push that feeling using my own medium for expression and making Gloria look like she was dipped in paint.
My work explores the sensory experience of being among plant environments: in my paintings, I look closely at how a single flower or a wild, untamed field can express emotional and spiritual experiences. For me, nature offers beautiful ways of considering our internal thought processes and intuitive reflections. For Mr. Watters, I used that same kind of abstract and emotive color to get at the creative practice of this remarkable dancer. From the original photograph, I was drawn to his stance and the patterning of his clothing. I consider the painting an homage to works by Wadsworth Jarrell, such as Revolutionary (Angela Davis) of 1971: in his paintings, Jarrell used bright and vibrant colors to underscore the significance of Pride, Power, Energy, and Respect in African American communities in the 1960s and 1970s. In homage, represented through “Mr. Watters”, I use similar colors to paint the brightness and joy of dance. Like my paintings of nature, I am interested in how the freedom of abstraction can suggest an imaginative, creative, and joyful experience, even in challenging times.
A butterfly is a flying flower with a dancing heart. Nicole’s pose, expressions and energy was so expertly captured by Ashkan, I was compelled to surround her in an ethereal space which matched the playfulness and joy the young dancer exuded.
I wanted to capture the very struggle and beauty of black love. There is chaos and a lot of moving parts in the background, and despite that these two have found each other. I love the way he is caressed under her chin and in between her bosoms with her arms around him, it shows her strength and softness all at the same time. I wanted to accentuate that emotion and to make her a strong beautiful black woman as my focal point.
Beauty is what ignites my imagination. The instant I saw the photograph of this beautiful ballerina in a red dress floating effortlessly in the air, I was reminded of a butterfly. My treatment is the use of the colors of nature blending into each other seamlessly. I used greens, blues, ochres and shades of olive to show a communion with the living world. “Nature is because it is alive, moving, reproductive.” A butterfly struggles through many stages to reach its final destination of “Utter Beauty.” A professional ballerina also faces many years of perseverance and endurance to become a true great artist!
This collaboration was my first time to paint on top of a photographic image printed on paper. Thus, in an effort to “perfect” my work, I did not realize I would remove the printed image as I removed paint! When my dancer’s lips and right hand essentially disappeared, I decided to turn him into a model of today’s pop culture where gloves and masks are the norm along with tattoos and piercings. Regardless of one’s beliefs about the Covid pandemic, there can be no denying that my dancer is dancing through this time with strength and grace.
Artist Marlo Saucedo uses words to create her pieces. The entire fairy tale story of “Little Red Riding Hood” is written into this piece as the woods. Dancer Zoe Hayman is Red, who throws off her cloak and leaves it behind, representing freedom from her past and the creation of her own future.
My creative intention of “Dancer at Play,” was to give the viewer a snapshot of this professional ballerina playing and enjoying dancing outside the rigorous routine of work. My signature style of colorful circular marks using vivid, transparent inks on plexiglass was able to create a fun and magical peace to represent “Dancing at Play”. The black silhouette of the dancer and negative open space, allowed the colors to dominate while creating an intimacy with the dancer. The lighting on the piece adds an additional three-dimensional effect that draws the viewer further into the work.
I decided to use shades of green because it is a cool color that symbolizes nature and the natural world that goes with the picture. Green can improve reading ability associated with everlasting life, growth, and fertility.