Exclusive studio interview with New York based artist Jules de Balincourt. De Balincourt talks about translating the modern 21st century experience into painting and still keep it accessible.
In Jules de Balincourt's paintings the social, political and economic landscape of the United States, where the Paris-born artist has lived since childhood, is subject to satirical analysis and exuberant reimagining. Working from the position of an outsider, the artist questions structures of power and influence, laying bare injustices and hypocrisies while maintaining an amused attachment to the myths through which identity - individual and national - is constructed.
From big screen legends, like celluloid cowboy Clint Eastwood (Good, Bad, Ugly, 2008) to newsreel-like pronouncements (United We Stood, 2005), Balincourt employs a post-Pop painterly language to signal shifting sentiments or former glories, made all the more melancholy when they appear etched in mainstream culture. Apparent freedoms and their human cost are foregrounded in a key painting like People Who Play and The People Who Pay (2004) in which divisions of labour and skin colour are all too familiar. Yet, through provocative detail or disconcerting shifts of scale, often the works destabilise their own apparent narratives.
De Balincourt's process involves various techniques - including stencilling, masking, abrading and spray painting - that, from a distance, create an apparently seamless vision. Up close, however, the eye is caused to snag over deliberate disjunctions. A sense of things breaking apart is a powerful imaginative motor that finds a particularly strong visual correlation in de Balincourt's map paintings, including the US World Studies series, where familiar territories are organised according to various hidden, unknown or unspoken criteria.
In these cursorily unified arenas de Balincourt also explores the shifting relationship between representation and abstraction. In recent works de Balincourt expands on these themes, presenting in Big Globe Painting (2012) a world whose patterns reprise early modernist abstraction while reading as simple land masses, where arcs of colour, like those used to denote the routes of commercial airlines, are reminiscent of the flicks and spills of action painting and schematised boats suggest territories to be explored (and perhaps colonised). Applied to a portrait such as Psychedelic Solider, a similar pattern becomes a virulent, and by implication, self-defeating kind of camouflage. Dual intimations of creation and destruction pulse through works such as the Burst Painting (2012), an 'explosion' of radiating colour where cause and effect remain mysterious.
Between explosive suns and flickering screens, de Balincourt invites us to journey across territories that might be celestial or earthbound, cartoon or cyber in origin to consider the physical and metaphysical in contemporary life. He paints a restless world both in form and content.
Jules de Balincourt, born in Paris, France in 1972, lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. De Balincourt's work has been the subject of a number of international solo exhibitions at institutions including Kasseler Kunstverein, Kassel (2015); The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas (2014 - 2015); Rochechouart Museum of Contemporary Art, Rochechouart (2014); Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal (2013); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2010) and Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, Nashville (2008). His work has also been included in a number of significant group exhibitions, including L'Ange de l'Histoire, curated by Nicolas Bourriaud at le Palais des Beaux-Arts, Paris (2013); New York Minute, Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow (2011) and the 10th Havana Biennial, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana (2009).
Jules de Balincourt | filmed by Out of Sync | NYC June 2015
Interview | Jesper Bundgaard
Camera and edit | Per Henriksen
Producer | Out of Sync
Artworks courtesy | Jules de Balincourt
© Out of Sync 2016