Thursday, September 13, 2007

Jules de Balincourt and the meaning of kitsch

Jules de Balincourt's new work is up at Zach Feuer Gallery (LFL) Sept 6-oct 13 2007. The painting above is my favorite from this show. I love the kitsch, ski-lodge meets sci-fi feel of the work. I have noticed more and more kitsch painting in the last years. In terms of language exploration, we could characterize kitsch as the serious and earnest painting (language) of a narrative scene that we appears to be in discord with outside context. To be certain something is kitsch, the narrative scene depicted and the outside information the audience has about the artist's intention or personal are in contrast. The narrative scene is a joke. But you can only know it is one is you have prior, outside information that contradicts what the artist is saying in particular work.

Think about this. You go to a flea market, and find a painted scene of a waterfall, in feathery, airbrushed language. The artist (unknown to you) may have painted that painting as a joke (the rest of the artist's work may be hard edged minimalist). It is kitsch to the artist. You may sincerely love feathery waterfall paintings: it is not kitsch to you. Or, you may love it because it goes against your aesthetic principles (you are a hard edge minimalist). Then it is kitsch to you. It is in its relation to its surroundings that kitsch is inferred; nothing is kitsch in the absolute.

Within that in mind, what do we think about kitsch in painting. Is it fun, funny, a conundrum, or an escape? Jules de Balincourt's work is refered to as "outsider" and "democratic". The fun of his work - and there is always a lighthearted tone of uncertain purpose-- is welcoming as it confounding. It is may be kitsch, be we really need more information.