Jacques Roch, French-born painter, dies at 80

March 17, 2015 | By Robin Guivarc'h

Jacques Roch died on Saturday, March 7. He was 80 years old and lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

During the 60s, his rebellious comic strips populated Paris' underground newspapers. In the last few years, they have popped up on color-saturated canvases to reveal a surreal world that echoes Roch's own dark humor. "Color is really the door to a kind of joy. In the last 10 years, I've been dealing with the light because there is enough darkness around," says Roch.

Dominique Nahas, an independent critic and curator based in Manhattan wrote a clever text on the paintings exhibited in his solo show at Kim Foster gallery in 2013 : "Jacques Roch’s paintings have never been more wise, more limber, more animated and more manically sensual. And yet, too, his paintings combine the use of lapidary colors and washes that are more redolent of the luxurious serenity and earthy eroticism of Scheherazade’s Persian garden than of the sultry nightlife of the cabaret. Roch’s colors leaven his hyperkinetic tendencies with intimations of a type of 'divinely untroubled' condition that is perpetually challenged and undermined. His languorous, even sumptuous, palette is assisted by (infected by) his signature use of antic silkscreened line work, abuzz with frenetic activity. There is grace and mischief combined here, surely. But what is most affecting with Roch’s work (and what makes it genuinely complex and in a true sense 'slow' work) is the way we receive pleasure in viewing it precisely because we are entertained by Roch’s unsuccessful attempts to be joyful, by exemplifying through his work, as part of his process, what Herbert Marcuse, in One Dimensional Man, termed  'euphoria in unhappiness' an affective condition Marcuse."

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