"I am not sure how the Trump phenomenon will manifest in my work but I do know it is impossible for anyone to negate it and its ability to submerge into our subconscious.."
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background. Where did you study?
I was born in Paris France in 1972 and between then and 1980 had brief stints living in different places in Europe from France to Switzerland and Ibiza before permanently settling in Los Angeles in 1980. I spent my childhood following my mother’s impulses to chase love or shelter in different parts of the world, never really settling into one place until 5th and 6th grade, the first two consecutive years I spent in one school. I was constantly adapting to different settings and perpetually experiencing the new kid or outsider experience especially coming to American public school after having had a formative Waldorf school experience in France.
I spent most of my adolescence being a Southern California surf rat and it wasn't until taking classes at SBCC that I rediscovered art and a conviction of that being what I wanted to do. I then proceeded to spend 1995-2000 studying at CCAC majoring in ceramics studying with the legendary Viola Frey and making a side income building (beat legend) Michael McClure’s studio. I then headed east to NYC in 2000 in my little pick-up truck and sleeping bag, some tools, cooking and art supplies and dreams of the big city.
You are quoted saying: "Currently, making work and living in America is beyond words, but maybe not beyond images.” With 20 January 2018 being the one year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, how do you feel being an artist in Trump's America? Has this affected your work?
"They Cast Long Shadows" is in a sense about this binary of opposing forces we are currently witnessing in America. They being either the Trump freaks or the anti-Trump camp because essentially it has become that simplified or divisive now, you are either 100 percent for or against him and there is no middle ground, no negotiating the extremes. Never since the Civil War has America been on such a profound brink of ideological rupture.
Whether its the neo-fascist Trump ideologue or the left fighting for equality, environmental sustainability and all the other causes that are under serious threat, historical moments like these leave big shadows as different ideologies clash for the light. I am not sure how the Trump phenomenon will manifest in my work but I do know it is impossible for anyone to negate it and its ability to submerge into our subconscious and how it manifests will unfold accordingly....either as act of resistant cooperation or complacency. The long shadows symbolize the trails or the remnants, the positive or negative effects of people’s actions or beliefs.
Tell us a bit about how you spend your day/studio routine? What is your studio like?
Studio routine is not so routine – it has in past either been nocturnal or from 10-6 but there is no real schedule aside from a day or two with my studio manager in the office and one studio helper. For the most part I have kept it a small operation, still making my own paintings but facilitated by my two wonderful assistants. I like the idea of still being able to maintain a nomadic transient element. I think routine as an artist can kill creativity, one still needs to explore, wander, delve into the unknown, be surprised and awed. I sometimes attribute this to my first ten years living out of a suitcase but nonetheless I know it fuels me to travel and discover alternative realities. In that sense part of my routine is occasionally traveling, most of which at the moment is based in Costa Rica where I am currently building a studio and small residency to invite friends, artists, dreamers, whoever it may be that is seeking escape to come and visit. I spent so much time painting these Edenic spaces of escape, now I am going to seek and live it.
How do you begin a painting? I hear you don’t use images as a reference, could you tell us more about this?
This is true I very rarely begin with an initial image, since my work is essentially representation/narratively based. I prefer to begin the painting from a purely abstract intuitive process strictly based on color and form delving into a subconscious process before eventually finding, or "mining out" in a sense, the figurative elements. I like this process of seeking or searching through painting and layering of color in order to construct a narrative based both in primitive abstract space as well as a logical narrative painting space and how these two states of mind can cohabit.
How do you go about naming your work?
That process is as intuitive as my process of working. Sometimes the titles precede the painting and then a painting is made in relationship to the title. Other times the title surfaces when a work is near completion. Very rarely some pieces take up to a year to title.
Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?
I am working on building my jungle art studio residence in Costa Rica and preparing a solo exhibition this October in Copenhagen at Galerie Bo Bjerggaard, in addition to participating in several group exhibitions that are in the works.
Jules de Balincourt, They Cast Long Shadows at Victoria Miro Mayfair, until 24 March 2o18
All images courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery
Interview publish date: 15/02/2018