‘Itinerant Ones’ is the first solo UK exhibition for the Paris-born, New York- based painter Jules de Balincourt. Known for his carefully constructed paintings that move effortlessly between abstraction and figuration, the imagined and the real, this new body of work sees De Balincourt moving away from direct references to current social, political or popular culture, and instead depicting a world in which indications of specific place or time are absent. Although the works are diverse in subject matter, throughout the exhibition a poetics of free-association lends the images a certain universal familiarity.
De Balincourt’s process involves various techniques – including stencilling, masking, abrading and watercolour-like oil washes – creating an apparently seamless vision. Exhibited across two floors of the gallery, the paintings here range in scale from the tablet-sized Boardwalk Barter a reminiscence from the artist’s earlier years selling his work in Venice, California, to one of his signature, immersive flower-like explosions, which can be read as either the conceptual origin or the end point of all other work.
In works such as the cityscape High and Low, the acid-bright leisure scene BBQ sur l’herbe, and the painting from which the show takes it’s title, Itinerant Ones, De Balincourt zooms out of specific culture into a more global gaze. Juxtapositions of works such as Firepeople and Visionquest, where figures come together in hopes of spiritual enlightenment, with Alex, an intimate portrayal of a friend on the beach, locate De Balincourt’s interest in both personal and social depictions of humanity.
This body of work takes the viewer on a journey – an escape – into a realm populated by small communities gathering, converging, or seeking solace or refuge. They may appear cradled by a strange nature, or searching for protection from an ambiguous threat. De Balincourt’s scenes come to signify a desire for leisure or reprieve from within a vulnerable and ever-changing landscape, whether physical or psychological. He paints a restless world both in form and content, perhaps suggesting that we are instead the itinerant ones of the show’s title.
‘Itinerant Ones’ is on show until the 20th December. For more info please visit the Victoria Miro