Jean-Marc Bustamante's personal exhibition
February 3 - March 28, 2010
The project was carried out as part of the program "Year of Russia and France, 2010", under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture (Russian Federation) and the Embassy of France in the Russian Federation.
In early 2010, as part of the "Year of Russia and France 2010", held under the auspices of both the President of the French Republic and the President of the Russian Federation, the Ekaterina Cultural Foundation welcomed on its premises an exhibition of a French artist Jean-Marc Bustamante.
Jean-Marc Bustamante has become a leader of the so-called "plastic photography" trend, that has caused a revolution in art over the last two decades. Since 1978, Bustamante has been offering his photography to the audience as a very specific form of painting. He was one of those to start a leading trend of the contemporary art: since the exhibitions in Vancouver and Dusseldorf, followed by those in New York and Paris, photography has once and for all established itself as belonging to the high art, with the borderline between the two areas eliminated forever. Some of the artists exploiting this trend (as, for example, Andreas Gursky, whose exhibition took place in the Foundation in 2008) continued to work with photography, giving it priority above all other expressive means. Others, as Jean-Marc Bustamante, however, broadened the horizons of their artistic search by involving sculpture and painting.
Jean-Marc Bustamante is also well-known by his conceptual installations, where he manages to create a unique combination of ornamental design and architectural space, both mingled with his exclusive technique of painting on Plexiglas.
In Moscow the artist presented an exhibition that represented his creative evolution to the full extent, including both photography dating back to late 1970-s and his most recent paintings on Plexiglas.
Thus, the Moscow project could, actually, be considered as Bustamante's first retrospective exhibition.
The exposition was envisaged as a "total installation" (when the artist himself is both a supervisor and an author of the exhibition), demonstrating various aspects of Jean-Marc's creative achievements. Due to its chronological structure and the crossing of various motives, names, colors and materials, the exhibition gave the audience a unique chance to feel and reconstruct the relations between photography, sculpture, and painting.
Ten European collections and museums participated in the exhibition, particularly, S.M.A.K. (Gent, Belgium), Musée d'Art Moderne de Saint-Etienne (France), and the Fond municipal d'art contemporain de la ville de Paris (FRAC).
The Exhibition Catalogue features articles by Alfred Pacquement, Christian Bernard, and Pauline de Laboulaye. The catalogue was not supposed to be a mere inventory of artwork presented at the exhibition. It also reflects all the previous experience acquired during exhibitions in various museums, galleries, biennales, as well as in private exhibition spaces, thus representing the whole range of Bustamante’s creative work.
Born in 1952 in Toulouse
“I like to be in a kind of in-between place”, says J.M Bustamante, who is forever shifting from one medium to another, and working his way into the relationships between things: between photography and painting, between abstraction and representation, between certain free and random forms and other more constructed forms, between the finished and the irregular, between transparentness and opaqueness, and between construction and appropriation. Jean-Marc Bustamante is one of those contemporary French artists who enjoys international recognition. He was chosen to represent France at the 50th Venice Biennale (2003). He is currently teaching at the Advanced School of Fine Arts in Paris.
Born in 1952 in Toulouse, he turned at a very early stage to photography. In 1975 he worked with the photographer and film-maker William Klein. In 1978, in electing to look at the world through a very large field camera (20 x 25 m.), he produced hisTableaux/Pictures (1978-1982): luminous landscapes, nameless places which seem dehumanized yet saturated in human traces, on the outskirts of cities, and near Barcelona in particular. Through the precision of his field camera photos, the monumental format of the prints, and the fact that each photo is printed just once, J.M. Bustamante transforms these photos, which he describes as “slow snapshots” into nothing less than photographic pictures. They are pure objects of vision forcing the viewer to take a long look, in the end perceiving a strange record of his own existence, his fragility, and his finiteness.
Between 1983 and 1987, keen to explore the links between object and image, he produced objects and installations with the visual artist Bernard Bazile, under the name BazileBustamante, with endless references to painting, architecture, and sculpture. In 1988 he reverted to working on his own. His works were an ongoing back-and-forth interplay between these same media in two- and three-dimensional compositions, with a vacant, unfinished look about them, often placed directly on the floor, or made to form tables, podiums, showcases, cages and shelving.
In the Lights series (1987-1991), photos dating mainly from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, discovered by Bustamante in books and art and architectural magazines, were re-photographed and printed as silkscreened enlargements on transparent Plexiglas, and affixed an inch or two from the wall, giving them the look of grayish stained-glass windows. The wall, at once a reflector and a shadow, revealed the work. As “images of memory”, these photos distill an uncanniness and a feeling of absence, rekindling a time forever gone: images of childhood, a school classroom, a deserted apartment, a museum room…
The photographic project Something is Missing, embarked upon in 1995, puts across the idea of a reminder. But many pictures are “real” snapshots taken in the middle of cities, with a place reserved for surprises, playfulness and the individual. Like a sort of anti-logbook—kept clutching a 24x36 camera throughout long journeys in South America, the United States, Israel, Spain and perhaps other places too—the reportage goes in quest of the disappearance of geographical information, even if certain details at times make it possible to identify certain places. The real theme is displacement. References of forms, colours and actions give rise, in the onlooker, to exchanges in every sense and inexhaustible scenarios.
With his Panoramas, which he started to create in the late 1990s, Bustamante returned to the process of silkscreening a previously enlarged image on Plexiglas, but this time based on very impulsive, intimate, hot drawings that are photographed and in a way frozen or glazed in the Plexiglas. The sheet is set slightly away from the wall and the coloured areas cast their shadows on the wall’s surface. These Panoramas stem, above all, from an almost immaterial experience of transparentness and colour.
The Trophies series started in 2005 is a veritable work of strata; each sheet of monochrome Plexiglas is caught in a sheet of zinc-plated steel and placed behind this latter but in front of the wall. The drawing is cut out and fixed in the metal by blowtorch, keeping exactly the quivering of the line. To-and-fro movements occur between the geometric and the organic. The work stands up because the monochrome is never completely uncovered, with drawings opening and closing in front of the monochrome surface, like a sensitive plaque.