Itinerant Ones - Jules de Balincourt’s new solo exhibition at the Victoria Miro Gallery - is a showcase of extraordinary painterly studies of the socio-political landscape of the USA. Born in Paris, but having spent almost his entire life in the United States, Balincourt’s paintings describe the peculiarities of American society, politics and economics from the overwhelmed perspective of the outsider.
From its streetscapes to its hilltop vistas to its aerial cityscapes by night, Balincourt’s work is characterised by a peculiar mixture of subdued colours with the occasional flash of shocking pink or garish yellow. The overall effect of the palette is of a kind of serene detachment. His painting style has often been compared to outsider art , with its deliberately childlike “ faux naïve ” style – and it’s true that these paintings exhibit some of the genre’s hidden themes: unselfconscious reflections of life’s absurdities, and a country saturated with images propagated by the media. But there is a knowingness in the way that Balincourt employs these tropes. Working with spray paint, stencils, masks and abrasion, what appear as cohesive images when viewed from a distance are revealed upon close inspection to be a mulligan stew of contrasting, even conflicting, painterly techniques.
Balincourt’s cityscapes, nearly diagrammatic in their layout and peopled by tens of tiny figures, look like modern day Bruegel landscapes. Other works depict dense crowds of figures who could equally be huddled refugees or well-to-do city-folk. The world seen in these paintings is striking for its ambiguity, it’s neither a utopia nor a dystopia. But the political never feels far away. Near the entrance of the gallery there hangs a small portrait of Chelsea Manning, halfway up the wall, almost out of sight.
Address and map: 16 Wharf Rd, London N1 7RW
Nearest tube: Old Street
|What||Jules de Balincourt - Itinerant Ones, Victoria Miro|
16 Wharf Road , London, N1 7RW | MAP
16 Nov 13 – 20 Dec 13
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