I’m interested in the organic, material qualities of how a painting is constructed… from the type of support – wood, metal, silk – to the properties of pigment, binders, the effect of light, the physicality of material and the effect of illusion. In short, the total process of the physical experiences of making and looking at a surface on the wall. I want to make artworks that describe the feeling of making a painting.
– Jane Bustin
In Jane Bustin’s London studio, exquisite ceramics, and delicate gauzes insinuate themselves into her sensitive work palette, meshing with elements more easily identifiable as “painting”. The ceramics forcefully resist the current fashion for extravagant and wilfully obtuse decoration, preferring instead to speak to the understatement of Japanese Sengoku period pottery. This is reinforced by Bustin’s choices of delicate materials, their tender symbolic implications and a ceremonial approach to assembling.
And whilst Bustin’s work fundamentally behaves as painting, this integration of objects, many with an implied domesticity, not only alter their relationship to the wall but they allow for this deeper range of association and allegory with their careful blend of familiarity and ambiguity.
Small paintings on wood and canvas nestle alongside panels stretched with a variety of sheer materials. These translucent panels are only obliged to carry fragile stains and traces of pigment therefore revealing much of the architecture of the support…the skeleton beneath the skin. I thought fleetingly of Robert Irwin’s installations where columns of coloured light are seen through large translucent skins. But there is nothing systemic in Bustin’s approach whatsoever, and the formalism that underpins Irwin’s larger sequences of rooms is entirely absent in Bustin’s intimate and very felt works.
With meaning and process combined, and with an obvious drive for exploring possibilities, Bustin’s work suggests that what can be considered a painting doesn’t need to be limited by expectation.
– Andrew Frost, Art Collector Magazine
So considered in its making and thinking, so carefully judged against the familiar throng of loud and large New York – and know that it feels terribly important right now… Like a rebuff or antidote to bluster and noise.
– Andrew Jensen
The dialogue between the hidden and the revealed, the substantial and intricate runs through much of her work. The notion of the concealed is reinforced when panels of differing scales and depths coalesce into larger conglomerates where only partial edges are visible. It is almost as if there is no “front” to her work – an oblique view, equally legitimate. Her use of highly polished copper panels even makes what is behind or to the side of the viewer an “aspect” of the works. The intense coloured edges spill colour onto the wall itself inviting further scrutiny from the flanks. Thus, everything conspires to defeat a single pictorial viewpoint as Bustin’s work reveals itself to be driven by movement.
In Bustin’s work The Nijinsky Project – Faun makes this explicit. A performance combining dance, composition and installation in a homage to iconic dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. The placement of each assemblage establishes coordinates for the performance space and each element is further calibrated to the human body, or more particularly their height relates to the specifics of individual dance “positions”.
The consideration of Bustin’s selections, the fine ceramics and porcelain, the diaphanous materials and the blushes and traces of pigment, combine to serve as triggers for feeling, even a nostalgia for material and for touch and to elicit our own sensitivities.
Seldom do we encounter amidst the clamour and theatre of much contemporary work, such sensuality and modesty as Bustin’s work contains. For this reason alone, it seems even more vital – not that she is obliged to swim against this tide, but this coalition of refined tactility and material is key to resuscitating our sensory capacity.
– Andrew Jensen
Jane Bustin (b.1964, London, UK) lives and works in London and was educated at Hertfordshire College of Art (1983) and what is now the University of Portsmouth (FKA Portsmouth Polytechnic) (1986). In 2019 Jane Bustin completed a residency in Latvia at The Mark Rothko Memorial Fund.
Her work is found in notable collections such as Chelsea College of Art & Design, The Victoria and Albert Museum and the Yale Center for British Art.
It is suggestive of a world in which the phenomenology of materials – the experiences that these sensations support – make a kind of spare visual poetry.
-Edward Winters – Trebuchet issue 7. 2019
THE NIJINSKY PROJECT – FAUN BY JANE BUSTIN, 2018