Martin La Roche’s astonishing cityscapes

I meet up with Martin La Roche again. His ready smile reveals his continued enthusiasm for and commitment to his minutely detailed satellite-view cityscapes. Since our last meeting he has gone international. I find him setting up a new exhibition – opening Thursday 10th October – at the discrete and welcoming Espace Gaia in Geneva’s old town.

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Martin La Roche with “Manhattan,” 2013

I remain mystified as to how he produces these drawings. He uses maps and web-based aerial images for reference but his ability to imagine the views that he then draws is astonishing.  Take a closer look! In “Manhattan” he gets away with depicting the Guggenheim Museum upside down!

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Detail of “Manhattan”

One of his favourite travel destinations is Venice. He has drawn the city in his unique style and in doing so evoked a yingy-yangy thingy at the same time. Very cool!

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“Venice” by Martin La Roche, 2013

Martin’s works have an instant appeal especially if you know the city in question. It is easy to imagine a La Roche on one’s own wall. These are not limited-edition prints. They are reasonably priced. My advice would be “Buy while you can!”

Espace Gaia is at 14 rue Calvin, Geneva (old town).

Martin La Roche: an imagination for urban details

Martin La Roche 3Martin La Roche trained in graphic design in London. He then went on to work in fashionable studios in Paris and Cairo. He is fascinated by big cities. As much as he settles anywhere, he has settled in Geneva. This 37 year-old polyglot tells me the best part of his work as an interior designer is when a plan is executed to his satisfaction. I can’t resist asking about the worst part. He hesitates; there is a mischievous smile on his face. “It’s when someone loves something I’ve totally screwed up!”

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Martin’s only hobby, on which he spends hours, is drawing. He labours over minutely detailed pen-and-ink urban scenes. His first exhibition in 2011 was a series of aerial views of imaginary but detailed street-views. They are delicate and static; every feature is spaced to give a monotone, Japanese feel. These works are perfect for the walls of the chic offices in Geneva’s business quarter.

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A friend challenged him to do something similar based on a real city. Martin freely admits to the influence of Turgot’s 1734 Plan de Paris in meeting the challenge. He has executed a remarkable 360 degree view of Geneva centred over Place Bourg de Four. It is not imaginary, but I simply cannot imagine how he did it.