New Sensitivity, 2006 oil and acrylic on panel 47 1/4 x 50in. (120 x 127cm)
PROVENANCE: Arndt & Partner, New York. Acquired from the above by the present owner.
EXHIBITED: Berlin, Arndt & Partner, Jules de Balincourt: Accidental Tourism and the Art of Forgetting, 24 January-18 March 2006.
Painted in 2006, Jules de Balincourt's New Sensitivity was created for his first exhibition in Berlin held at Arndt & Partner entitled "Accidental Tourism and the Art of Forgetting". The artist has always been pre-occupied with identity and nationality (himself being French born but residing and working in New York) so for this exhibition he sought to distance himself from his new American identity by traveling to Germany as an "accidental tourist" where he would live and execute the paintings to be included in the exhibition. As the press release for the exhibition stated, the artist was delving "deeper into his own little stories, trying to find a possible Art of Forgetting the country he lives in. Moving and traveling, for him as for many of us, is sometimes a necessary way to find the reasons that makes us work or live."
Travel has always been an important part of de Balincourt's life. It is through his curiosity and observational tendencies that he is continually and voraciously exploring and analyzing the world around him. "Everything inspires my work: lived experiences, cultural and social phenomena. But it is more and more about the internal gaze, a mix of these utopian and dystopian ideals. It all sounds kind of New Agey, but these days, that's what I'm interested in" (Jules de Balincourt, quoted in R. Wolff, "Strong Language", reproduced in Modern Painters, April 2010, p. 30). His compositions, whether on a small or large scale are reflections of the world he seesa sort of amalgamation of reality and perceived reality. By employing a heightened and vibrant palette and often a slightly skewed perspective, de Balincourt's creations are somewhat haunting and beguilinginviting the viewer in and begging for an interpretation.
In his review of the exhibition, Jens Asthoff states that Balincourt clearly distances himself "from the American political and historical themes that marked his earlier work, [he] introduces outlandish scenarios, showing locations from Berlin and other places that might have been discovered by an "accidental tourist" traveling around Europe. But this is not documentary painting; rather the work depicts fictional narratives painted in varying styles that often merge the real with the realm of dreams...The broad range of motifs and formal differences that constitute this deliberately disparate spectrum are held together by the artist's relaxed style of painting, producing an odd, open-ended cosmos that Balincourt fills with precisely articulated emotions" (Jens Asthoff, "Jules de Balincourt" on artforum.com, February 26, 2006).
In New Sensitivity de Balincourt presents us with a seemingly innocuous view of a tree-lined park. However, upon closer examination the scene becomes unsettling. To begin, the colors create an eerie atmosphereit seems impossible to tell if it is dusk, afternoon or evening. The scattering of characters along the foreground are viewed from an almost voyeuristic perspective, leaving the spectator feeling both inquisitive and out of placealmost floating above. It is a dreamlike environment, where we are clearly "seeing" every day life in an environment not our own.
While de Balincourt is still young, he paints with the knowledge, foresight and ingenuity of an artist far beyond his years--a fact that is acknowledged by the countless exhibitions he has been honored with over the past 10 years, the numerous accolades he has been praised with and the representation of his work in many fine collections.
"It is a universe in which abstract and representational images collide and orbit one another like satellites, creating a kind of loose free-association, a non-linear narrative." Jules de Balincourt (Jules de Balincourt quoted in Nicola Trezzi, "Jules de Balincourt", in Flash Art, no. 279, July-September 2011).