Jules de Balincourt at Victoria Miro

Stumbling Pioneers

This vibrant show of new paintings by Jules de Balincourt explores with humour, hope and humidity the sprawl of Los Angeles, in all its psychedelic hues. He returns to Victoria Miro for a second exhibition and to once native LA after a much longer hiatus of twenty years. What's changed in that time? Perhaps nothing, and everything - the world is a different place of course but the Californian heat and colour, its pace and space and familiar motifs are all constant. Palms explode in joyous fluorescence, huge articulated trucks park up in lorry parks no different to those depicted by Spielberg as far back as Duel (1971) - swimming pools and beaches, valleys, hillsides and real estate are all riffs we inherently understand. 

Tree Portal, 2016

Tree Portal, 2016

Evocative not just through the images but the titles as well. This is the world of Bret Easton Ellis, the land of Kerouac. David Lynch even. The lexicon of names and scenes are so well known to the viewer - Hollywood having long introduced us to all these ideas. The liberals and hippies, the searchers and rich kids and valleys they inhabit - as well as being so familiar they are also synaesthetic; these paintings throb and hum, there is a palpable buzz like the cicadas that would sing from within each of these windows. Tree Portal actively invites us into another world. 

There are patterns that repeat themselves in some of these paintings, stairs appear in a semi-abstract sense as stripes. From afar the trucks parked up along the freeway line up in a similar way. The glow of lights from night or dusk adds a luminescence to more subdued landscapes. Not all the swimming pool blues are as Hockney left them, in Dried Up the water has been drained away and instead there lies fly tipped furniture and junk. 

The show's title refers to the first settlers, the pioneers that finally made it across the States, settling on the West Coast in conflict with the Native Americans. That there was such hope and opportunity in those first adventurers was the start of the American Dream. What that has evolved into is one of the world's strongest economies; California, were it a country, it would be eighth after Brazil with an estimated $2.3 trillion GDP last year. With that position there are inevitable issues; ethnic of course but moral as well - and with so may Hollywood clichés excusing morals all together, it is no wonder this state may stumble. 

Installation view: Upper Gallery, Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Road, April 2016

Installation view: Upper Gallery, Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Road, April 2016

If ever there was an exhibition to display psycho-geography this is it. There is so much absorbed collective memory and connection in these scenes, they are more familiar to our societal dreams than more simple documentation. Or perhaps that is exactly what they are, re-imagined as if by Hunter S Thompson on a bender into the desert. This is a glorious Spring show; rich and varied, warm and glowing, and coupled with the Serpentine's Alex Katz show opening in early June, London is being treated to a wash of colour this first half of the year with fresh, vivid paintings. 

http://www.victoria-miro.com/exhibitions/490/ until May 14th