On September 15, Paris-born Jules de Balincourt will unveil his first New York solo exhibition in a decade—and his second with Pace, following an impressive debut with the gallery in Hong Kong last spring. Known for an arrestingly post-Pop sentiment of acid-bright figuration, land, and leisure-scape, de Balincourt’s scenes develop within themselves as he visually synthesizes personal experiences, political realities, and social media. He describes his language as pointedly accessible, working from imagination and memory to digest 21st-century culture through pigment and paintbrush. CULTURED caught up with the artist for a sneak peek at his new show.
CULTURED: Tell us about the paintings for your upcoming exhibition at Pace’s Chelsea flagship.
Jules de Balincourt: It’s been about a year that I’ve known about this show, and I always work until the very last minute. I love pressure. I have a collection of almost 35 to 40 paintings now, which is the first time I’m going to have a surplus and will be able to edit out the best 15 or 20 works. Right now I’m in that last editing phase, homing in and focusing on that final stage.
CULTURED: You split your practice between three studios: Bushwick, Brooklyn; Malpais, Costa Rica; and Springs, East Hampton. Describe your space here in the Hamptons.
de Balincourt: My Springs studio isn’t insulated. It’s just a two-car garage, so it’s a summertime studio. I don’t have the courage that Jackson Pollock had. I need heating. You see Pollock’s studio and go, “Well, there’s this American genius.” He was working in a little 300-square-foot shack. My studio here is a bit bigger than that.
CULTURED: How is working in your Springs studio different from painting in Brooklyn?
de Balincourt: Working in Costa Rica and Springs, I’m much more aware of the elements and nature. The studios in both locations are partially indoor-outdoor. There are insects that can crawl across paintings. There can be dust or rain. I work more at night in Springs. There’s something a little more primitive and intuitive, almost mystical, when I’m working out of the city, something a little less intellectualized and more subconscious.
There almost couldn’t be greater polar opposites: Bushwick and Springs. Bushwick is über-urban, concrete, and gritty, while Springs is fresh, with good air, insects, and animals. It’s nice that I have opposing places I balance between. The Hamptons feels a bit like a self-imposed residency. I’m not inclined to a real schedule here and work at my own pace. I also have no assistants here, so there’s something more self-reflective and isolated.
CULTURED: How did you discover Springs? What drew you here?
de Balincourt: It’s been a long love story with the Hamptons since I’ve been in New York. Initially I was working as an art handler, from 2001 to 2003, and used to deliver work to the Hamptons. I would drive a big graffiti-covered art truck to install a print and then drive back to the city. I grew up in California, so surfing was a big passion of mine. Then I discovered surfing in the Hamptons and I would come here to camp, and graduated to renting a place. Then, eventually, in 2014, I bought a little house in Springs, not far from the Pollock house.
CULTURED: Do you find the legendary Hamptons light as extraordinary and inspiring as it’s made out to be?
de Balincourt: I’m drawn to spaces where land meets ocean. In a lot of my work, there are themes of ocean and water, or boats. You can deconstruct that recurring imagery for whatever metaphors you want. I think it also has to do with my being a surfer. But I’m not giving the Hamptons light enough glory. It is beautiful. Most of my paintings are really from my imagination. I absorb all the different light of California, Costa Rica, and Springs and put it into my work, whichever studio I’m in.