Cecilia Roser, who works under the name Ce Roser, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Roser has been active in New York City as an artist since the 1960s. Ever since childhood, Roser had been painting and drawing. While studying in Berlin, Roser learned of a female artist named Käthe Kollwitz. Kollwitz, who worked until the day she died, was an inspiration to Roser. Remarking that she would like to live that way too, Roser proceeded to emphasize the need for young artists, especially women, to find a fitting predecessor and mentor.
Roser studied under the Japanese calligrapher Hidai Nankoku (b. 1912) during his New York City visit. Roser later transferred the experience of rendering abstract characters on paper to painting on canvas. Although the experience with Hidai paid homage to her Asian ancestry, Roser’s work does not fall into the East Asian art tradition. According to Peter Townsend, Roser’s work seems “oriental only to those who don’t know oriental art.”
In addition to Kollwitz and Hidai, Roser admired Emil Nolde’s watercolors and the way Claude Monet transformed nature into paint. Hans Uhlmann, Charmion von Wiegand, and Sari Dienes also served as other mentors for her vivid, lively, and daringly delicate work.
Roser has stated that it is for others, not her, to say what tradition her art belongs to; yet many critics categorize her work as abstract. Abstract art focuses on what a person sees; i.e. color, shape, size, and scale, thus, it does not directly depict objects in the visible world. Roser’s work exemplifies the idea that art is a bridge between the verbal and pre-verbal world, a blending of the reality and perception of life.Roser believes that the “communication of painting can express the architecture, landscape, aerial views, free associations, random choices and unexpected juxtapositions of perceptions and feelings that constitute life experience.” Roser’s abstraction and distinct style of purposefully using colors has been described as “suggesting a symbolic language of earth and mountain topography.” That critique continues on to stress that her work is a great example of “perception shifts” and her abstraction is able to “engage the viewer through ambiguity.”
John Russell described her work as “something of the headlong imagery of Kandinsky’s early ‘Improvisations’” and referred to her “recognizable images which come and go” with color that is “everywhere light, clear, clean and free.” The use of expansive white space helps in her emphasis of crisp clean color which is used with distinct intention so much that Roser is regarded as “very good on the edges of her pictures, too, with plenty of action backed up into the corners.” This increase in white space, praised by many critics, came about as a translation of the sunlight that she saw flickering on the Hudson River from her New York studio.
While some critics claim that her work is “best suited for water color,” Roser’s style is bold, vibrant and unintentionally intimate. Her colorful style and broad brush strokes “become abstract elements that float over the picture plane.” The organic nature of her paintings reflect a process based on feeling and through the rhythm and underlying harmony, viewers are given a pleasurable experience for the eyes. Roser’s work embodies childlike verve and spirited expression while remaining seemingly delicate.