ERRATICA / 2020 – AN UNUSUAL YEAR
The impact of the events of 2020 on individuals has depended in part on their situation. For Jean Claude Roy, a landscape painter who has travelled from his house to paint almost every day for the past fifty years, the impact was enormous. In his native France, people were not allowed to leave their homes except for basic necessities for a period of nine weeks, and the chief of police did not consider painting to be a necessity.
But the need to paint found a solution: on day one, Jean Claude climbed on his roof, attached his easel to the TV antenna and painted his village. On subsequent days, he stood at the edge of his property to paint village scenes, or slipped across the lane, tempting the gendarmes to chase him back.
That worked for one week. Fortunately, the garden was coming into bloom, so every day, Jean Claude chose a new flower, matched it with a jug from his collection, and created his own landscapes inside the studio. His tubes of paint – which will reappear later in this story – intruded themselves into the landscapes and became part of the paintings. When he ran out of new flowers, he “borrowed” some from the neighbour in early-morning raids, or slipped out at night to cut along the side of the road.
Permission to leave the property arrived just in time to prevent a series of scenes of vegetables, and Jean Claude resumed his painting trips around France.
Returning to Canada armed with travel permit and quarantine forms in July, Jean Claude had another plan: for years, he had been hatching an idea to create a rock – a large rock – and cover it with his empty paint tubes.
For those of you who know Newfoundland, it is not unusual to find large isolated rocks, known to geologists as erratics, littered about the countryside. A frequent subject of painting by Jean Claude over the years, he wanted to contribute his own, so during quarantine he began preparing his old paint tubes, saved since 1969. They needed to be flattened, and an estimate made of how much surface area they would cover. They had to be locked up against pilfering squirrels.
Welding equipment, rebar, fibreglass and resin followed, and his erratic is now well underway in its temporary location in the potato garden.
The title of this exhibition – ERRATICA – was chosen not only to refer to the rock, but also to the unpredicted and sometimes unhappy way that events have influenced our lives this year. And let us not forget stella erratica – the wandering star – that draws Jean Claude around the countryside, and then slips into his paintings disguised as the sun.