Jules de Balincourt, New Sensitivity, 2006, Acrylic and oil on panel, 120 x 127 cm / 47,2 x 50 in, BALI0010
Jules de Balincourt
Accidental Tourism and the Art of Forgetting
Arndt & Partner is delighted to announce the first solo exhibition of Jules de Balincourt and the inclusion of this new position into the gallery program.
For his first exhibition in Berlin, the French painter living in New York Jules de Balincourt decided to put a distance between himself and the United States of America. Not only by visiting the German Capital as an accidental tourist (see the quite ironic title of the exhibition!) but also by going deeper into his own little stories, trying to find a possible Art of Forgetting the country he lives in. Moving and travelling, for him as for many of us, is sometimes a necessary way to find the reasons that makes us work or live. So Jules de Balincourt moved to Berlin early July 2005 and spent time in a Friedrichshain studio, working on the brand new paintings that are now to be seen at the Gallery Arndt & Partner.
If the style of Jules de Balincourt's paintings is still recognizable: naïve figures in funny or absurd situations, brightly colored paint on partly visible wood, distorted perspectives that draw the viewer directly into the image and natural catastrophes mixed with rainbow look alike explosions; the artist distanced himself from the American history and political context which was more prevalent in his previous works. Except for two pieces: a map of the State of California displaying the possessions of the native Indian tribes that were living there (Another Map, 2005) and a portrait of a soldier from Checkpoint Charlie (Charly don't surf, 2005) taken from a famous photograph that is now to be seen there. But, within that image, America is already far away in time and space — it is not the country itself but its historical traces in Germany that are showed.
So, even if you recognize a little square with autumn trees that look like any exchangeable North American city park the recent paintings of Jules de Balincourt are much more about utopia or a specific state of mind than a vision of the USA. Like that breathtaking and quite monumental diptych (Diptych, 2005) representing a large piece of architecture coming straight out of the sixties (one can think of the various futuristic open-air stages based on the stereotypical Hollywood Bowl). Under a vast double geometrical shell, people hang around for an everlasting party and the sound that goes out from the loudspeakers is nothing but a rainbow including silver and gold. There is no real concert or spectacle, no audience, but a large community of people exchanging experiences in an exhilarating atmosphere. Like many of the seventies utopian architectures, it is all about community, social relationship and adventurous living. The building becomes a support to new adventures and possibilities, and the strongly focused and symmetrical perspective takes us directly into the plot.
Coming to Berlin to put some distance from his personal history and geography — in a world of colliding images and references — Jules de Balincourt's works are taking us to visit a Dreamland that doesn't exist anymore but persists in all of us.
Jules de Balincourt (born 1972 in Paris) studied at California College of Arts and Craft, San Francisco and graduated this year from the Hunter College, New York. He lives and works in Berlin and Brooklyn, New York, USA. His last solo show was on view at Zach Feuer Gallery (LFL), New York, and the next upcoming solo show will be shown at Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France. Furthermore he was participating in numerous group shows as for example "Greater New York" PS1/MOMA, New York, "New Art", Ulrich Museum of Art Wichita, USA, and the Saatchi Gallery, London, will show his work within the retrospective „The Triumph of Painting, Part Four" in spring 2006.
Starting on 21 January 2006, Arndt & Partner Berlin will hold the first European one-man show by the American "shooting star" Jules de Balincourt. The title: Accidental Tourism and the Art of Forgetting.
After successful presentations in the USA – including participation in the famous show Greater New York in the PS1 Museum – de Balincourt's work will be much in evidence in Europe this year.
Arndt & Partner take especial pleasure in announcing a solo exhibition, curated this coming autumn by Hans-Ulrich Obrist in the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Almost concurrently, in the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Arndt & Partner will open the group exhibition Notre Histoire (20.01.06 - 07.05.06), curated by Nicolas de Bourriaud & Jérome Sans. From February this year, de Balincourt's work is to be seen in the exhibition The Triumph of Painting. Part Four in the Saatchi Gallery in London.
The 33-year-old artist, who was born in France but has lived in the USA since his early childhood, moved to Berlin to prepare the exhibition. Since July 2005, he has produced in his studio in Friedrichshain a series of works, the content of which increasingly moves away from American history and politics, to deal more decisively with the question of "displacement – déplacement". Previously dominant themes, such as social ills in industrial society or statements about US domestic or foreign policy, have disappeared, making way for whimsical scenarios and settings for social fears and desires.
In the Berlin group of works, de Balincourt takes up motifs from architecture, landscape and daily life which could be found only in Germany, but by means of composition and associative montage he transforms them into pictures all his own, as the expression of private and social utopias. Thus in a large-scale, richly-hued diptych he combines architectural elements that seem to originate from the 1920s expressionist architecture of Bruno Taut and the "Crystal Chain", with the rows of seats movable by hydraulic power, from the Palace of the Republic.
As a traveller and an "accidental tourist", as a curious and sharp-witted observer, the painter constantly explores and analyses his immediate environment. These characteristics are reflected in his pictorial strategy; on his small- and large-scale wooden panels, unusually colourful and bizarre picture worlds take shape, to be discovered and deciphered by the viewer.
Valley Go Home, for instance, derives from personal experience.
"I grew up in California and I was dead keen on surfing. But I lived in the Valley, and every time I got to the beach with my friends, the local rich kids used to yell at us: 'Valley go home!' We were middle-class kids, too, but we felt totally upset and thrown by this rejection." (Jules de Balincourt, January 2006)
The individual works represented in the exhibition do not readily fit together to form a whole; each stands its ground as a fascinating singleton.
The artist will be present from 7 - 9 p.m. at the opening of the exhibition on 21 January.