Jacques Roch (1934-2015) was born in Lyon, France. After studying at the renowned Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Roch made a name for himself during the ’60s with his rebellious comic strips that populated Paris’ underground newspapers. In 1979, Roch moved to New York and began to concentrate on painting. The intensity of street life and the culture of graffiti were new influences and he responded by developing a world of line drawn characters playing out their inner psychic tensions. As a result, Roch had his first show in New York in 1983, curated by Cathy Goncharov. This was followed by shows in the East Village. In 1990 a 10-year survey show of his work was held at Exit Art. This show was the inspiration for an article by the art critic Robert C.Morgan,“After the Deluge, the Return of the Inner Directed Artist” published in 1992.
Ma Jolie, a retrospective, will be Roch’s ninth solo exhibition at the Kim Foster Gallery. Accompanying the exhibition are essays written by Denise Carvalho and Dominique Nahas. The show presents a selection of never before seen drawings from the 1970’s as well as large acrylics from the 1990’s (including Ma Jolie and Love Story) and concluding with two small paintings from 2013: The Lucky Knight and La Belle Dame.
Roch’s paintings told a narrative that came close to the edge of a nightmarish darkness, taking a last minute playful turn with sexual daydreams and humorous, childlike doodles. His motley crew of cartoon characters, repetitively applied through silkscreen, had a disruptive presence and was a prominent layer in his paintings, juxtaposed with strange parable like phrases. Roch’s use of acid hued color introduced light and space. He created a world where a host of tragicomic characters cavorted and conspired. These works were laden with psychic goodies, even if specific meanings eluded us.
Excerpt from essay by Dominique Nahas published in D’Art Magazine January 2019
. . In these selected artworks extending over decades we feel from the very beginning that Roch engendered an intense vision of play-filled lubricity and turmoil, topped-off with a mixture of frenzy and sensuous delight. His complex vision, while it entices and charms with its surfeit of jitteriness and pliability, has equal parts smoothness and scratchiness and darkness. His imagery (like gnats buzzing at your face, a thousand little tongues haptically engaging your eyes and mind) offers us something strangely comical, yet insistently askew. His feverish imagery (a lot of encrypted doodles, naughty bits, monsters and imaginary beasts, private formulations pertaining to the insouciant pleasures of voyeurism and the carnal) straddle coherency and chaos, control and dissolution . .
Excerpt from essay by Denise Carvalho
Jacques Roch’s posthumous exhibition, “Ma Jolie,” showcases the artist’s visual idiom through unprecedented brilliance and fluidity. His ever so fresh and liberating palette and compositions appear indelibly wondrous, even to those who have followed his work over decades, as the paintings continue to redefine our ability to perceive and interpret the artist’s world. Some of the works depict a floating perspective into macrocosms of linear potentialities, semi-organic, semi-architectural, machine-like forms, presenting us with the question on the time of paintings, which exceeds our time as it continues to echo their own imaginative consciousness . .
ARTEIDOLIA February 2019 review by Ron Morosan
…There is a distinct existential dialogue going on, a self dialogue, or talking to himself, that takes place in his painting and this adds a presence to the work that puts in into the company of such artists as Paul Klee and Odilion Redon. The voice of the artist is clearly present in Jacques’ work and contributes to its power. In this way it is distinctly an artist’s art; it claims the territory of art as an artist’s language and doesn’t seek to serve an external objective world or a popular media world…