The iconic 19th century French Impressionist, Edgar Degas, once stated “They don’t understand that the dancer has been for me a pretext for painting fabric and for rendering movement. Was this his only intent? One can only imagine. Art historians to this day continue to question Degas’ peculiar obsession with the young Parisian ballerinas he hired to model in his secluded lofty garret.
With contemporary Ohioan artist, Cheri Homaee, there exists no mystery; her love for dance was undoubtedly cultivated during her dance lessons as a teenager. Ms. Homaee states “Dance, as an expression of emotion, has always been in my thought since then. Now my subjects are dancers from my past who still inspire me now. By involving dancers in my painting, I feel the freedom they express and they give me the freedom to express myself through them. I think I have always used dancing as a way of being free…”
Her dance series explores classical ballet and ballroom dancing through the mediums of paint, charcoal and photography. Several of the photographs, such as Elegance – Photography on Canvas 3/5, portray the quintessential female ballerina exuding both elegance and radiant beauty. There is no stereotyping though; in Dance IV she captures in acrylics the rugged masculine nature of a female dancer through the visceral handling of the paint and interpretation of the musculature. In Dance I, Charcoal on paper, the solid calves of the dancer are the center of interest. Ms. Homaee, however, also introduces the clever subtle subplot of silhouetted figurative reflections and studio light flares, which adds an inviting mystical dimension. There’s ambiguity, too. Are these amorphous reflective forms other dancers or the audience perhaps? This work makes me wonder—that’s Art!
Ms. Homaee’s strongest work is when she allows her spontaneous mark, scrape or irregular gesture to remain on the surface. The formal elements found in the charcoal drawings are allowed to resonate, adding character, richness and depth. I look forward to seeing the subtle nature of the charcoal drawings emerge in future paintings.