From horse-riding to painting

From 1949 to 1955, when he was only a child, Ronan Bloch, enjoyed the beautiful narrow streets of Paris. When he was 6 he moved to Beauvais, in the Oise, where his father started a new business. Soon after, a younger sister was born. Some years went by until the schoolchild began high school, from which he was expelled when he was only 12: as certain cumulated behaviours of a brilliant child did not mesh well with the imposed rules; consequently, this led him to several disciplinary warnings that he had to reassume. A doctor recommended his parents that the “difficult” child might need to be in contact with animals, such as horses, precisely. And hence he had the chance to begin riding when he was young.


Math is the way to everything!

Again in Paris, at his grandparents’ home, Ronan Bloch regained a life of freedom and anonymity where somewhat different mentalities, like his own, coming from the provinces offered him the oxygen he needed so badly. A brilliant student as he was, he devoted his efforts to the subjects for which he felt a true passion, in particular Maths and Design. He remained at the top of his class and received excellent marks in “Maths Sup” and “Maths Spec.” at the École Saint Louis, from which he graduated the first in his class. Nevertheless, he experienced mental distress whenever he was faced with contemplating a path for his life, which clearly prevented him from moving forward. He felt real devotion toward his teachers and he frequently discussed things with them or even played chess with his Maths teacher, who in fact was the youngest specialist in all of France. Ronan Bloch soon understood that these people had a gift, but he felt that they did not make the most out of their possibilities; that the life-imposed concessions restricted their passion. These meetings were vital to Ronan Bloch, since he never wanted to live his life this way. He was afraid of not being able to stick with the commitment and of being bored of a system with no surprises or impromptus of any kind… During this period of doubt and hesitation, a very close friend told him just before dying: “In life, every moment must be felt as lived”.


The horse as urgency

Finally, other passions he had in mind made him decide. At first, Maths: but then he felt there was not enough margin; then chess: the milieu was too narrow-minded for him. Then painting: he believed he had all his life before him to do it. Sailing: he could practice this sport almost forever… Finally, horse riding was the most urgent if he ever hoped to begin.

Later he moved to Normandy as a horse keeper at a private stable to take part in equestrian competitions. The frame was magnificent; the stables were extraordinary, in an old family manor, although this job was not what Ronan Bloch expected. He was also aware that he would eventually have to do his military service and he enrolled as a Maths teacher at Compiegne. This year turned out to be very long, painful and depressing for him. His parents, however, could not accept that he would not study a degree, and insisted he register at “Prépa Véto” in Fontainebleau. Again, he received utmost encouragement from his teachers. However, the day of the exam, Ronan Bloch decided to hand in his papers in blank, always overwhelmed by a terrible anxiety related to the idea of being caged in a life that did not convince him.


The breakthrough

That year he had the opportunity to meet the horseman Pierre Durand at the CNSE in Fontainebleau. He was the first horseman to really impress him: “What he does is beautiful, he is an artist, a brilliant man who knows how to get the quintessence of his gift out of him”. Thus, he appeared to be happy, able to combine his skills, his passion and his life. Furthermore, Durand knew how to conserve and reveal his gift within a structure that normally would not permit it, while fostering real admiration among the public. This man did not fear challenges: conductor of his own destiny, he accepted the challenge and rode against the other horsemen. This meeting gave real confidence to Ronan Bloch and he committed himself in a world that he wanted to explore: that of equestrian competition.


The horse fall

He found some space for rent in the stables in Vexin and he started his activity in the horse trade business. The brothers Régis and Didier Spillemacker, two well-settled horse traders, welcomed him very warmly to this market and they always maintained him. Ronan Bloch also travelled as frequently as possible to competitions in order to value their horses. When he was riding, all his nature could be expressed: marginal, capricious, a winner, and a lover of challenges. He quickly made great progress and everything was for once on track. He took part in national tournaments where he faced the greatest horsemen. He made acquaintance with Hervé Godignon. Sadly, after five or six years of being professional, he fell from of a horse during a competition. He had a foot badly injured by the horse that had fallen on him and was immobilised in a hospital bed, hearing surgeons tell him that he would never be able to ride a horse again…

Yet again, a very special encounter occurred with a very young Pierre Bachelet, who had just written the music for Emmanuelle, the film. He was lying next to him in the same room after a car accident. These pleasant exchanges lasted for more than one month. Nevertheless, the moral consequences of the fall were perhaps worse than the physical ones. He had no idea of what he would find upon departing the hospital, and in order to settle the rent fees at the stables he sold all his horses except for a mare (that did not pass the veterinary check). After a long period away from his family, one day at last he saw his father crossing the threshold to visit him and, although concealing his joy, he finally proposed his son work with him.


Back to competition

Now engaged in the family business, Ronan Bloch again found his bearings and above all, succeeded in riding a horse again and going to tournaments with his mare. He won his first Grand Prix in Chantilly, where Hervé Godignon was riding Electra, and was a very moving and stimulating victory. His office and stables were moved home and he kept his competitive spirit, although he was always searching for changes and new adventures, and hence turned his attention to painting. Large canvases painted in acrylic were born after extensive research from rather meticulous sketches.

Nevertheless, the priority was still the CSO competition. Régis Spillmacker introduced a chestnut purebred to him: Jaquassu, a reformed horse coming from the fence courses. This was Ronan Bloch’s Grand Horse. Only four years later, he was among the best thirty horsemen in France. He was chosen for international tournaments and over time, Jaquassu proved to be even more reliable, with a very particular technique, a striking agility and a speed ability that delighted its rider. In ten Grand Prix tournaments, eight times they finished in the top five. Ronan Bloch then discovered the benefits of osteopathy thanks to Dr. Giniaux, and their meeting would also result in a very close friendship. But a day after a visit from Jaquassu, on the way to a CSI in Cannes, a brutal car accident killed that precious animal.

The experience was extremely upsetting. The weeks after the accident Ronan Bloch started suffering from asthma crisis and developed a terrible allergy to horsehair.

Having invented the musserolle and the elastic martingale, he registered the patents and started to commercialise these products in the USA and France. He met another creative mind in Bruno Delgrange, to whom he proposed the introduction of the saddles in the USA during his trips.


The passion of painting

At that moment, painting would help guide him through life, and one of his first large pieces was to become a premonition: Jaquassu, light and ethereal, with spiral neck and limbs like springs, facing a well, a kind of chasm, while a woman, in the background, is looking at this captivating creature. The scene is depicted on a sandy beach; the sky and sea in blue open the doors to infinity.

Each one of his canvases tells a story, a thought, or perhaps even a rebellion. Every day he wakes at about five in the morning, and Ronan Bloch, the artist, works on his sketches with military precision. He sketches the scenes with a black crayon and looks for the balance between the symbolic and real elements that will oppose or complement and will give, with uncluttered force, the value of the retained goal. This initial approach to the canvas was disgusting and fascinating at a time. The background would be treated depending on the subject painted and developed around the aim of the canvas. While the elements are justified, developed with maximum detail and limited to the essential, Ronan Bloch extends the sketches with a retroprojective effect on the coloured background. Each element would fit and adapt by mere coincidence to the eventual irregularities provided by this background. Very soon, people compared him with Dalí. However, before he decided to paint, he had only visited the halls of the great Louvre. Hence, he went to the Dalí exhibition in Beaubourg. He explained that he had not Dalí’s technical quality and that the expression was indeed different. On the other hand, he found that he had a certain affinity with Magritte, who he admired, even though they both approached subjects very differently. The choice of this surrealist technique arose when he was only a boy. All his “teen” sketches and designs belonged to the same kind of drawing, with well-defined contours and perfectly finished details with topics related and well rooted to a dominating symbology. Ronan Bloch has conserved his methods of drawing and obtains his topics both from his private life as well as from social and political events.

He has always known how to counterattack aggressions or setbacks by means of evasion and sweetness. After a difficult divorce, he worked with a series of canvases where a boat, alone on a beach, faces stormy but also shiny skies that offer an endless path in the distance. At that time, he drew a striking self-portrait: his silhouette in back light facing the sea. Many paintings show intense relationships of affection: For instance, “Alibi”: the horse is the future of the woman that he carries in the air on an orange toned background… “Vivre libre un faucoun sur la main”: how to accept constraints without sacrificing references and priorities. This painting was acquired by Le Conseil Géneral de l’Oise in 1992. “L’échiquier”: the horse has just put the queen in check, who takes shelter in the king’s arms… This painting was exchanged for a horse. Alain de Royer Dupré, racing horse trainer, had become a close friend in the times of the musserolle. The latter proposed him this deal, since Ronan Bloch’s new partner, wishing to learn how to ride a horse, had revived his stables. The Bloch couple then went again to participate in tournaments around France and overseas.


The solitude of the workshop

Ronan Bloch always begins a new project fully motivated, no matter the field, even if he knows that he sometimes drifts a bit too much. He knows that it is always easy to discover his own gift, but it is nearly impossible to draw the quintessence if he wants to remain himself.

Horse riding severely punished him and the result immediately made him think about his progress.

Ronan Bloch ultimately preferred the current workshop’s solitude, since for him painting is stronger than anything: it offers him the freedom to express himself with no limits. He refuses to be pressed and savours every single moment.

He enjoys discovering antagonism on his canvas when he can find coherence. The punishment is personal and he does not show any painting before it is fully completed. Through painting, his traumas and anxiety allow him to always develop with quietness and serenity, both in his private and professional life.

The work of this amateur painter is particular but firm and it has already interested several collectors.

Ronan Bloch took part in the Salon d’Art Equestre that, included in the Salon d’Art Nature Animaux, was exhibited from the 4th to the 7th December 2003 in the Espace Auteuil of the Parisian 16ème Arrondissement.

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