Jean-Marc Bustamante
France, 1952
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This French artist began his training in photography as an assistant to William Klein in the late 1970s. Early in the next decade, he became known for his work in both photography and sculpture. Between 1983 and 1987, he worked with the sculptor Bernard Bazille, and the two artists signed their works with the name ‘BazilleBustamante’. Finally, he began to create sculptural works of his own, presenting his first pieces at the Ghislaine Hussenot Gallery in Paris in 1988. In 2012, the artist explained his approach as follows: ‘Over the last few years, I’ve taught painting at the Kunstakademie in Munich, but I’m not really a painter... or a photographer, or a sculptor. I like to learn a medium through teaching. I taught sculpture at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam for several years. Now I’m trying to explore painting, so I teach that.’ For Bustamante, art is first and foremost concerned with the gaze. Perhaps it is unsurprising, therefore, that it is in the medium of photography that he has created his most notable works, including the series ‘Tableaux’ and ‘Lumières’, which made him known on the international art circuit. Bustamante even showed some works from these series at the Venice Biennale in 2003 after he was named the only representative of the French Pavilion for the 50th edition of the event. The series ‘Tableaux’, which he started in 1977, showed his continuing interest in a somewhat denatured landscape, characterised by blandness and a certain artificiality. The series was created after the artist had spent long periods at his home near Barcelona. In contrast, the extended series ‘Lumières’, which he began in 1987, features architectural interiors in which the human figure acquires a certain presence. But perhaps the main protagonist of these images is the light that irrupts into them to produce marked chiaroscuro effects. The centrality of light is even reflected in the title of the series: ‘Lumières’ (lights). The series is distinguished by the artist’s treatment of the photographic images: silk screens on Plexiglas are mounted several centimetres from the wall to create a very particular play of shadows between the images—usually black-and-white or treated to produce a single tone—and the shadows they project onto the wall behind them. The final result becomes an extension of the pictorial medium and overcomes the two-dimensionality of the image to achieve an almost sculptural character. As for the architectural spaces selected by Bustamante, he initially focused on evoking the world of children by choosing photographic images of schools, which he then silkscreened on Plexiglas. In more recent works, he has used online images that show interiors of youth discos. After being manipulated by the artist, these images appear out of focus, as if intended to draw attention to the process used to transform them. The artist sums up the way his work has evolved as follows: ‘I started out photographing the earth and its chaotic nature: building sites, temporary spaces, the peripheral areas of cities, and unstable spaces. Now I’m more and more interested in air, light, the sky, and colour.’
Glòria Picazo

Artworks by the artist included in the Collection Artworks by the artist included in the Collection

  • Lumière 02.03 / 2003