They Cast Long Shadows
‘Currently, making work and living in America is beyond words, but maybe not beyond images.’ – Jules de Balincourt
Quiet, reflective and mysterious, new paintings by Brooklyn-based artist Jules de Balincourt continue an intuitive approach to image-making, where the world we inhabit is filtered through the artist’s own psychological landscape.
In Troubled Eden, 2017, a snaking river, encroached upon by signs of human activity, is worn like a shift dress by a figure with a sharp fringe and an assertive, red-carpet stance. In other works, de Balincourt paints nocturnal landscapes, figures seeking refuge, monsters that resemble monuments, glowing caves. Everywhere, dreamlike distortions and disconcerting shifts in scale create a sense of eeriness and imbalance. There is an unsettling atmosphere to these new paintings, suggestive of a world in flux. Yet, undeniable too, is a sense of optimism, a persistence of spirit, or a suggestion of how things might be different – with a collective leap of imagination, or if power was held in other hands.
How these paintings relate to the current social and political moment, and specifically to the power dynamics of contemporary America, is left deliberately ambiguous. Always rich in colour and technique, de Balincourt’s work is a bountiful confluence of reality and fantasy, where references to society, politics, or popular culture are never less than equalled by free association and painterly invention. As with previous works, the new paintings began life as abstract shapes and colours – glowing, transparent, or sometimes acid-bright, as if to indicate hyper-awareness on the artist’s part. Shaped by intuition, imagination and memory, imagery – sometimes recurring, such as congregations of people – emerges through an intuitive dance. This is painting as open ground or test site, a point of departure for artist and viewer alike, one through which we might attempt to process the chaos of contemporary life.
About the artist
Born in Paris in 1972, Jules de Balincourt 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). His work is included in the permanent collections of Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia, Italy; Oppenheimer – JCCC Collection for the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; CA MaRT, Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Rovereto, Italy, among others.