Jules de Balincourt

by Thursday, March 7, 2013

Force-fed on TV and an all-American mind-junk diet, Jules de Balincourt’s paintings are crafted with democratic gusto. Painted on board, De Balincourt’s faux-naif style paintings are underscored with grainy DIY texture. His folk-art cum genius approach to painting offers a free-for-all licence for his witty and apocalyptic social commentary. In Ambitious New Plans, Jules de Balincourt comically pictures a parliament of evil: starched shirts and pink faces, the order of world business is darkly portrayed as akin to a teetotallers’ craps table. Caught somewhere between a 1960’s cold war film still and anti-Bush propaganda, Jules de Balincourt swaps the blazing crimson of Communism for down-home barn-door red.

Jules de Balincourt borrows from the pop tradition of Jasper Johns to reinvent the American map according to his own satirical world order. In U.S World Studies II, Jules de Balincourt divides the US into a jumble of brightly coloured squares – all-inclusive but without logic (Florida’s been transported to the mid-west, and California’s now the Deep South). Jules de Balincourt pictures this new America as a self-contained rainbow-hued continent of disunity, pitted against the dark forces of the rest of the world: a swarthy no-man’s-land comprised of dwarfed and sketchy nations of dubious consequence.

In US World Studies III, Jules de Balincourt turns national politics into a game of formalist composition. Rendering the entire country in Republican red (die hard Democrat zones are given a muddy rouge cover up), and allocating each state with coloured bands of financial affiliation, Jules de Balincourt presents a nation artistically adjusted for visual (if not political) harmony. Placed against a white ground, and elegantly framed with black contours, Jules de Balincourt clumsily imitates the style of maps found in 20th century text books: suggesting a wilful and humorous alteration of official history.

Mimicking the graphic design of 1940’s newsreel credits, Jules de Balincourt’s United We Stood provocatively harks back to a time when US patriotism was untroubled and convincing. Painted in vibrant colours, Jules de Balincourt renders this logo strange: transplanting history to a contemporary context, its significance is lost amidst graffiti and disco era reference. Made with spray paint stencils and tape-ruled brushwork on wood panel, Jules de Balincourt’s authoritarianism suggests a lurid sub-plot of make-do survivalism.

Jules de Balincourt’s sculptures are created with the same home-brew imaginativeness of his paintings. Crude and funny, they champion crafty determination, inspiration and the power of grass-root enthusiasm. Untitled (Bull) is a withering miserable beast. Sewn together like an abused stuffed toy, it bleeds patriot colours of red, white, and blue. Jules de Balincourt caricatures a raging market on its last legs: an orphan-like object, repugnant, yet pathetically simpatico.

 

Painted postcard pretty, Jules de Balincourt’s The People Who Play and The People Who Pay puts the lives of ‘the beautiful ones’ under scrutinous surveillance. A generic symbol of luxury, this anonymous hotel could be anywhere: amidst the requisite palm trees and slightly shabby glass towers, sunburnt tourists mill about in their nowhere world of privilege. Within the aura of leisure, the all Black staff bustle unnoticed, their stealth-like omni-presence duplicitously reassuring. Picturing vacation life in all its ‘idyllic’ glory, de Balincourt presents a precarious and humorous view of 4 star resort cum bourgeois ghetto.

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