The Next Irascibles: Jules de Balincourt
Jules de Balincourt
By Carol Lee
Jules de Balincourt, painter and the owner of Starr Space in Bushwick, good-naturedly quips, "I hope I don't look too grey next to all the young people," referring to the group portrait. He needn't worry. At 37, de Balincourt may be the oldest in this particular bunch but his boundless energy and talent are ageless. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to call him the "Mayor of Bushwick," once a scrappy neighborhood, now in transition thanks to the burgeoning art scene, where he has lived and worked since 2000 (except for the two-year exile in Williamsburg). De Balincourt initially bought the Starr Space building to use as a studio in 2006, the summer before he was included in the much-talked-about "USA Today" show at The Saatchi Gallery. "It was originally a dance hall and marionettes theater in the '40s, then became a daycare center in the '70s and '80s. I realized the space was so conducive as a public space," says de Balincourt as he traces the venue's history. "Our very first event was a ping pong tournament. Since then, we've had over 40 local church parties, countless -- sometimes painful -- dance performances, animal rights punk shows and Obama benefits." Oh, and let's not forget the yoga classes and the farmers' markets.
[top] "Malpais Bad Lands," 2008
Then there's the more private de Balincourt, the artist who
paints ribbons of colors and imagined spaces, sometimes galactic and
other times microcosmic, cast with abrupt shifts in moods. They are
places both far away and reachable, dystopian and exuberant. The
Paris-born de Balincourt was exposed to different cultures early on,
having lived in Ibiza, Zurich, L.A. and Paris by the time he was eight.
After his parents' divorce when he was in fourth grade, he and his mom
moved to Topanga Canyon, where he experienced an ample dose of culture
shock and was forced to adjust to Reagan-era accoutrements like Op
shorts, half shirts, tube socks and Hulk lunch boxes. "I was heckled as
being a communist because I wore weird French clothes and carried an
aluminum-silver lunch box." But he survived and went on to study art at
CCA and Hunter College. This winter de Balincourt will have a solo
exhibition at Zach Feuer Gallery, where he's shown since 2003 and
another solo show at the Mori Museum in Tokyo this spring. And that's
not all. "I sometimes think of starting a commune somewhere in Central
America, Northern California or getting lost somewhere upstate."
[top, l-r] "Your TEchnology Fails Us You Me," 2008; Performance at Starr Space, 2008