Jacques Roch

Dominique Nahas

The singularity of Jacques Roch’s discursive and scuttling space, the ribald use of color and endlessly probing self-analysis that we see in his works are vessels (perhaps self-consciously leaking bateaux-ivres) that allow the artist to float a spray of journalistic accounts - minute impressions, sensations, dreams, recollections, annotations that seem to drizzle into his consciousness, captured as one would a rainbow in a jar. Indeed there is nothing demonstrated in his work, nothing to be proven or explained or defended. I am always taken by the slipperiness of Roch and his versatile art in which everything seems to dissolve, to chirp and flitter and dart into the slipstream of visuality, kept in balance between disarray and wholesomeness . In Roch’s markmaking there thrives, in its ambient-ness, its proliferation, an undertone of constructed visual distractednesses which surges forward, unimpeded by sanctimony. His art at times retreats into a note-taking-under-one’s-breath ambience which draws the viewer deep into its lair. I am lured by Roch’s easy going and pliably indirect image-making which resists making sledge-hammer in-your-face points about its own self-importance. These insistent artworks, instead, float like grace notes, soft-shoeing their way into your heart. His spaces, populated with levitating private signs and symbols, with tiny figures doing what appear to be naughty things in public, are given full encouragement with a steady and spotty admixture of verses creating tiny filigrees of patterned narratives. For Jacques Roch the atmospheric density of self-definition always finds itself pratfalling and getting up again, dusting itself off in preparation for another routine of slipping off the banana peel of undignified fate. He paints as if his muse had just packed her bags and was splitting town but then decided, after all, to stay for a while because, finally, she found all of this psychodrama just too damn interesting.

The journey has taken its toll, he might say, in his typical French accent, mais que voulez-vous. He sardonically relates the following in a published artist’s statement in 2001: 
" We are sorry the Artist is not going to give a lecture — the dog has eaten his denture… his nose is now a peak… croaking some jokes in the air …and we can see between his winged sneakers… his hands clutching a bottle of wine …and from the depths of his armpits a cluster of goat cheeses is raining down on the Café Terrasses where the beautiful women are laughing with all their teeth." 

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Jacques Roch has that mixture of frenzy and delight in his paintings which entices and charms us with its surfeit of jitteriness and pliability where the sounds of smoothness and scratchiness are sweetly insistent. There is in his work something which registers both charming and irritating, a looseness and a sense of something clinging to you, not letting you go. Like gnats buzzing at your face. There is something comical here certainly as well as something slightly demonic, something askew. Roch ladles out the psychic goodies in thick, syrupy streams of goo which lubricate his surfaces with stream-of-consciousness doodles that seem to pour out of him like a torrent of worries unleashed. I suppose these are diversionary tactics, like whistling in the dark at the hope that it will all go awry, this mass of moments piling on and piling on. What else can one do but submit, and luxuriate under the weight of Roch-time passing. His Dream of the Unicorn consists of monsters and legs and plump asses and pussies , cleavages and the feminine that caters to its own excesses and caprices for attention like nobody’s business. There is I suppose a hi jinx humor invested here — so as to ward off any further swaying of anxieties and worries. The unicorn becomes an involved creature which recurs in Roch’s mind - a persistent dream of perfection and impossibility. 

Roch’s resin cast works are expressive three-dimensionalized gestural-characters which seem playful and vigilant simultaneously. They suggest tactile fields in which the body and its orifices snuffle down and intertwine with worlds of lubricity and turmoil, bits of the animal world, as well as underworld states of mind and being . Here the material and the immaterial are eternally found in luxurious and sensuous congress while all we can do as viewers is sigh at the sight of fresh freedom’s impertinent playfulness.

NYC 2005