Pace opens an exhibition of recent paintings by Jules de Balincourt
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Pace opens an exhibition of recent paintings by Jules de Balincourt
Jules de Balincourt, Beautiful Storm, 2022 © Jules de Balincourt, courtesy Pace Gallery.

HONG KONG.- Pace is presenting an exhibition of 12 recent paintings by Jules de Balincourt at its Hong Kong gallery. Running from March 18 to April 28, the show, which is titled Birds on a Boat, marks the artist’s first solo exhibition with Pace since he joined the gallery in 2021. This is also de Balincourt’s first solo presentation in Hong Kong since 2012.

Paintings in the show span landscape and figuration. Rendered in rich colors at large- and small-scales, these works reflect de Balincourt’s interest in using the canvas to merge his own psychological landscape with external, global landscapes. In his practice, de Balincourt often explores the relationships between humanity and the natural world. The artist, who takes an intuitive, stream of consciousness approach to painting, imbues much of his work with mystery and ambiguity.

Several pieces in Birds on a Boat feature groupings of de Balincourt’s transient, nomadic figures situated amid formidable trees, churning coastlines, and other natural settings that the artist injects with otherworldly and fantastical qualities. In these works, the artist has said, it’s unclear whether the diminutive figures have found themselves in these environments “out of leisure or out of desperation.” For viewers, the wind, rain, and other natural forces depicted in these paintings are visceral and deeply felt.

"In a lot of this work you really feel the earthiness within the paintings. I want to convey the physicality of the natural elements, such as the wind, the plants, the rain," the artist has said of his landscapes. "It's about these really basic, earthy elements, and our relationship and our vulnerability, as we attempt to coexist in a constant flux."

Other works in the exhibition feature nude male figures. Depicting torsos, arms, and obscured faces, these works blur the boundary between abstraction and figuration. Limbs and abdomens converge with their surroundings, and the artist positions his figures at a crossroads between full representation and abstraction. Like de Balincourt’s landscapes, these works defy easy narrative ascription or categorization.

Formally engaged with the work of artists like Arthur Dove and Milton Avery, as well as the traditions of Fauvism and German Expressionism, de Balincourt’s paintings can be understood as vehicles into exploring the subconscious. Rife with expressions of fragility, vulnerability, imbalance, and precarity, these works take up timely motifs and ideas.

Jules de Balincourt (b. 1972, Paris) is known internationally for his colorful, radiant paintings that meditate on the social, political, and cultural dynamics of an increasingly globalized world. Shifting from a broader sociological view of borders, territories, and nation-states in his map paintings, the artist’s psychological landscapes bring us closer to humanity’s complicated relationships with natural and urban settings. Dissolving the boundaries between individuals and their environments reveals tensions created by privilege, geographic mobility, and labor. The artist’s social commentary is present even in the most luxuriant, fantastical settings that speak to urgent realities of contemporary life.

De Balincourt expertly blurs the line between abstraction and figuration, creating unsettling formal distortions, shifts in scale and perspective, and abstractions that have linked his approach to artists like Arthur Dove and Milton Avery, as well as the traditions of Fauvism and German Expressionism. Underlying his paintings are poignant commentaries on systems of labor and power, political events, and popular culture that draw their impact from a restless, intuitive exploration of color, space, and form. Of his practice, de Balincourt says: “People often associate a utopian/dystopian narrative with my work. I never had the intention of my work being about these dichotomies. I am more interested in the power painting has to place the viewer at a crossroads of ideological perspectives, which can allow the mind to travel in different directions.”

Born in Paris in 1972, the artist is currently based in Brooklyn, New York and Malpais, Costa Rica. He graduated from the California College of Arts and Crafts, San Francisco in 1998 and earned a Master of Fine Arts at Hunter College, New York, in 2005. He later ran the Brooklyn–based community and events center Starr Space. In 2009, the artist’s work figured in the 10th Havana Biennial at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. His work is held in numerous public collections worldwide, including the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada; the Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia, Italy; and the Rochechouart Museum of Contemporary Art, France; among many others.

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