JULES DE BALINCOURT AT ZACH FEUER
Art in America, May, 2005 by Brian Boucher
During the 2004 presidential campaign, Outback Steakhouse gave $681,000, or 95 percent of its political donations, to Republicans. Kmart donated $621,000 to the GOP--86 percent of the company's contributions. Tricon (not a defense contractor, but rather the owner of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell) sent Republicans $134,000--87 percent of its giving.
These figures appear in the painting U.S. World Studies III (2005) and set the tone for 'This Is Our Town," Jules de Balincourt's second solo exhibition at Zach Feuer (LFL). In the painting, a crazy-quilt-style map of the U.S. is ensnared in a surreal knot of highways analogous to the sinister financial traffic it reveals. The image is reminiscent of activist information campaigns and last fall's endless statistical analyses of red states and blue states.
Critics aptly described de Balincourt's first show here, in 2003, as a ruefully ironic view of our cultural climate; now the artist's tone is more sarcastic and partisan, satirizing a climate of fear: in more than one painting, people literally run for the hills. Several paintings are peopled with mysterious commandos: In Insiders and Outsiders (2005) they stake out a suburban compound complete with watchtowers incongruously plopped amid wintry mountains. Meanwhile, the men seated around large tables as if at summit meetings in a pair of works titled Ambitious New Plans (both 2005) personify a clueless old guard.
JULES DE BALINCOURT
By Nadja Sayej in The New York Art World
In the final scene of film adaptation of George Orwell's novel, 1984, Winston Smith caves into the totalitarian propagation of Big Brother by writing "2+2=5" with his finger in table dust. Although Winston is seen ultimately as a symbol for defeated societal passivity against government control, he also stands as a free thinker. He questioned his oppression in a secret diary that he hid in the wall of his desolate apartment from the "thought police."
This ominous, paranoid surveillance that confronted Winston is paralleled through political re-constructions in Jules de Balincourt's This Is Our Town. Through an ambiguous illustrative narrative, these new paintings objectify anonymous authority figures (oddly resembling plastic toy figurines), as they are shrunken into proportionally large paranoid landscapes that unfold at our own suspicion.
In his previous show in 2003, a cheeky humanitarianism defined his psychedelic-palette works along with a welcoming tree house sculpture. This time around, social and environmental issues are investigated; but with stronger government and political aesthetic. We are taken into uneasy board rooms instead of hand-holding forest fires.
It is apparent that smug people hold power, but what and over whom?