Friday, November 15, 2013

Jules de Balincourt

Practicing escapism is a crucial part of living in a large city. I have been thinking a lot on this subject lately, with the seasons changing and my tolerance dwindling. In one sense, as artists, we are able to escape simply by looking at others' work or by making our own — a healthy benefit. Since I can remember, I have felt a satisfying sense of departure while studying the paintings of Jules de Balincourt. His subject matter takes the viewer on multiple transcendental rides, while his skillfully administered strata of highly saturated colors alone tend to put me elsewhere, doing away with the vague haze of our very real world. Before his work was shipped to London for his solo exhibition, Itinerant Ones, that opened at Victoria Miro on November 16th, I had the pleasure of doing a visit and drawing De Balincourt's most recent paintings. I ended up spending a couple days colliding with his worlds filled with fire, water, forests and meditation.

A diverse group of characters fade in and out of De Balincourt's paintings, which gives their personas a mystery akin to the narratives they are partaking in. I was particularly drawn to an eclectic group perched on the limbs of a gigantic tree in one of his larger works. Much of his paintings leave the story up to the viewer to complete. In this grouping, I liked thinking of spiritual sit-ins and their lengthy contemplations on nature. In some areas of De Balincourt's paintings, he will add a seemingly infinite amount of layers, while in other areas he will remove paint, giving way to seductive hidden textures. Sometimes, he even leaves the panel naked showing the bare wood beneath. The combination of these techniques make the paintings combust like the fires and cities he depicts. In a lot of ways, the restraint he often uses while painting informed the drawings I made. My brightest of brights were made by the white of the page, left free from graphite.

There was a steady purr at my feet as I was working on my drawings. Jules has two studio cats (and long time buddies), one black and one white. With a tug of their tails he went from painting, to looking, back to painting again, as the day went on in his beautiful studio space in Bushwick. De Balincourt was an early settler in Bushwick, and now owns his studio with an apartment above where he can pull late season tomatoes from his rooftop garden.  Generously, De Balincourt has even hosted important art events in his space. Bushwick Basel, and most recently, meetings on the topic of the artist's ability to financially stay in Bushwick, to name a few. Along with his solo show in London, Jules has a retrospective opening at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts this month and there is also a book on his career and work that was just released by Rizzoli. It is a very exiting Fall for Mr De Balincourt and it was a truly enriching visit. To see more of his work go here