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Solo show: Jean-Marc Bustamante - Pedigree (over)

22 January 2009 until 7 March 2009
  Jean-Marc Bustamante - Pedigree Galeria Filomena Soares

Galeria Filomena Soares
Rua da Manutenção 80
1900-321 Lisbon
Portugal (city map)

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tel +351 21 - 862 41 23

22.01 - 07.03.2009


"I don't speak with an 'I', it's from further than that."
Jean-Marc Bustamante

Tableaux/Sculptures/Lumières/Something is missing/Panoramas/Trophées: this is the glossary that the artist himself has been constructing.

In spite of its apparent simplicity, one should use it carefully; each word or phrase doesn't convey a precise meaning, but rather designates a field of perception and exploration, a statement of a problem, materials and processes. The order in which these categories are mentioned is chronological, regarding his oeuvre. The "tableaux" appeared in the late 1970s; the "sculptures" in the end of the 1980s (exception made to his collaboration with Bernard Bazile from 1982 to 1987). This generic term covers groups of works and variations like "Interior," "Aller-retour," "Landscapes," "Sites"… The series "Lumières" started in 1987, the series "Something is missing" in 1995. The first "Panoramas" date from the late 1990s and the first "Trophées" from 2005.

Caution must be taken, especially since these words contradict or subvert their common use.

The "Tableaux" are framed large format photographs (8x10"). The first shots were taken during trips to the towns being built in the suburbs of Barcelona. Some turned over earth, a few trees, and traces of vegetation under a blue or cloudy sky: these are neutral places, silent, with no qualities worth of notice, featuring some buildings, a wall being built or some untouched construction materials. Sometimes we find abounding front compositions completely blocked by profuse foliage. These large prints (103x130 cm or even 146x117 cm) with no "specific subject matter," characterized by static light and striking sharpness, open a path beyond image and reality, to what Jean-Marc Bustamante calls a "mental object." "Slow snapshots," says the author, are at the origin - must one say it still? - of fine art photography, and are an unmatched precursor.

The sculptures resemble objects or nothing quite definite. There is a sort of twin beds, tables, display cases and boxes, sometimes containing photographic prints. Some shapes seem to have moved from the field of his photographs to sculpture. Wood, cement, steel, glass, and metal plate with visible bolting: the materials are used in their raw state or coated with red-lead. These structures can be installed on a recess, placed in a space on the floor, erected or hung on the wall. Transparency/opaqueness, verticality/horizontality: the gaze is either diffracted by the structure it goes through, or it is concentrated; in this case the work acts as "a vessel for the eyes."

The "Lumières" are photographs of photos from the 1930s and 1940s, which are screen printed in black ink on Plexiglas plates. More recently we also find internet images with their colors, matter and format subtly distorted. The screen printed plates are fixed to the wall with metal lugs that allow a few centimeters between the piece and the wall, thus revealing their latent contrast. "Spaces within space," it is "a world that is revealed," says the artist. A hand reaching out for a switch, a classroom, a playground, a shower room: image-memory, image-trace, image-imprint representing places sometimes connected with childhood. Simultaneously vivid and distant, immediate and remote, it isn't the subject, but rather their material presence that matters.

The "Panoramas" hang from the cymatium - reveal themselves - just like the "Lumières". These are colored drawings, abstract or figurative (graphs, scribbles or blots of paint), drawn with felt-tip pen on graph paper and then enlarged and screen printed using bright colors on transparent Plexiglas. Like a verre églomisé or a painting on glass, the opaque colors are laid on the back of the plate, acquiring a very particular consistency and brilliance. The immediate pleasure and joy of the gesture and color are as sensitive as the patience and delicacy used in their making.

Closer to sculpture than to painting, the "Trophées" are Plexiglas monochromes inserted in galvanized steel plates. The metal is cut with a cutting torch according to a previously drawn line to form an indentation. "Trophée": peculiar designation that refers both to the materiality of the work and to the randomness of an exact shape, conquered with great effort.

Finally, "Something is missing" is an open group - a work in progress -, collecting photographs shot with a 24x36 mm camera. The artist shoots without premeditation or special care during his trips. The reference points and the visible elements contained in the photographs are as singular as they are insufficient to convey precise information on the photographed place. A wall covered with posters, a corner of a street, parked cars, a tower in the distance: between immersion and portrait, utterance and silence, here and there; what we understand is the point of insertion and openness of a gaze.

It is important to emphasize that these different bodies of works develop concurrently. One question takes shape in a field; inevitably, it gives rise to another. One shape never appears without impacting the ones that surround it. One process is established; another responds to it.

Although each work functions autonomously, it also operates in interrelation with the others. This multidimensional nature of the work is itself subject to numerous experiments by the artist. For example, each exhibition is an opportunity to "replay" the whole of his works, to activate their underlying potentialities, to propose new interpretations, new exegesis.

Within this complex set in permanent change, photography works, according to Jean-Marc Bustamante, as the "primary form of work"; it's a "pre-reflexive, pre-logical" medium to which everything else (drawing, painting, sculpture, installation) organically connects.

Sensitive is the attribute of the photographic plate or film. One may also clearly apply this term to the one who uses them.

David Rosenberg
Paris, December 2008

David Rosenberg text as pdf-File 122 KB

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