David Bowie and Cate Blanchett are just two celebrity fans of the British artist with Bloomsbury Group connections, Tobit Roche, whose latest exhibition, Dreamscapes, A Mystics View of India will be held at Indar Pasricha Fine Arts
, Pimlico gallery.
In Tobits paintings, there is always a back story. Duncan Grant of the Bloomsbury Group, who was close to his father, gave him the following advice: that discipline is essential in any artistic endeavour. This advice has remained with him.
Tobit began painting as a nine-year-old while living in Canada, and was influenced by the Group of Seven, which included the prolific landscape painter, Tom Thomson. At fifteen, Roche moved to India where he lived with his mother and stepfather. In India he was exposed to the cultural heritage of that country and it was at a time when the vestiges of empire were being forgotten.
Roche recalls a particularly important experience which occurred when, at the age of sixteen, he was taken to the Himalayas. The experience was of an overwhelming feeling of freedom and adventure. Roches works appear to be an homage to the landscapes and memories of India, but are in fact an insight into his psyche.
Roche will be showing semi abstract Indian landscapes which are a blend of his memories and experiences. The mysticism in his paintings is created by his use of soft focus and sfumato. A patchwork of memories provide a key point of reference for his paintings.
A new direction in Roches work manifests itself in the Lingam paintings, which are a bridge between tantric and abstract art. Roche uses colour and light to deepen the narrative and capture that elusive feeling of India.
The work of an artist is the accumulation of his life experience. Tobits life has been an adventure which, few of us could survive. He has, in a great part, done so by expressing his angst in his paintings.
Roche attended the American International School in New Delhi. While Tobit attributes much of his feelings as an outsider to an unorthodox schooling experience; the differences between him and his peers as a result of physical and mental childhood trauma. It was during these formative years that Tobit was exposed to the people and experiences that would most significantly impact his work and leave a lasting impression. Tobit cites American Abstract Expressionism and the works of Pollock and Rothko as key influences in his work. He was also influenced by writers of this period, having been introduced to American literature by his English teacher, who was the sister of Thornton Wilder.