In his exhibition entitled Landmarks, Jean-Pierre Roy presents large-scale paintings that reexamine the classical meaning of the sublime while updating it with contemporary symbolism embodied by a current set of signifiers. His iconic compositions are pictorial vehicles for the contemplation of our current cultural and social anxieties. Taking cues from today,’s media, Roy imagines these post-apocalyptic dystopias as landmarks or secular totems to change. Through the creative process of inventing these imaginary landscapes, he attempts to understand the divine laws of existence while seducing viewers into accepting the painted space.
Rather than conjuring angelic images of peaceful rapture, the true meaning of the sublime is a terrifying astonishment that suspends us motionless with horror. As Edmund Burke wrote: ,”Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling.,” (Edmund Burke, On the Sublime and Beautiful, The Harvard Classics, 1909,-14) Roy translates this 19th century ideal for the current era by replacing the classical ruins and dark forests of the Romantic landscape painters with shorn buildings, columns of smoke, twisted steel, and smashed concrete. It is the Hudson River School born of a post-Hollywood sense of the world.
Growing up in Los Angeles on the tail end of the Cold War, Roy was raised in a cultural environment that had commodified the Apocalypse. While acknowledging their cinematic escapist influences (i.e., The Road Warrior, Planet of the Apes, The Matrix), Roy,'s dystopian constructions of the new American Mythology join a more psychological tradition of apocolyptic self-exploration and spectacle. Jack Goldstein, Cormac McCarthy, and Chris Maker would recognize this imaginary future, where landscapes change their meaning with time ,- buildings become memorials, barren wastelands stand as national monuments to the ,"achievement," of science in the service of war and defense, and cities dream about when they were once whole.
Conjuring images from his imagination to create ,”internal landscapes,” ensures that Roy is constantly engaged with the discovery of the material relationships involved in world building and world destroying. The search for a balance of opposing forces ,- atomic cohesion vs. repulsion, human vs. natural systems of organization, precision vs. abstraction, hard vs. soft, and broken vs. whole ,- is what drives the artist,’s desire to discover the divine systems of the universe.