Jane Bustin's first solo exhibition with the gallery, Rehearsal, presents a new series of paintings that take the Russian ballet icon Vaslav Nijinsky (1890 - 1950) as a central reference.
Jane Bustin (b. 1964 Hertfordshire, UK) works within an expanded understanding of painting, mixing materials and techniques. Her recent work mixes fresco techniques with oil washed aluminium, acrylic panel painting with ceramic and glazes, mirrored copper with latex, polyurethane and woven cotton. For all the apparent poise and fragility of ballet, every worthy composition is bold in its own right, underpinned by immense strength. Similarly the paintings balance the fragility of millimetre thin ceramic, fabric and pale tones with hard edges, metal and vivid colour.
While reflection is inherently part of the work due to the polished metal panels that recur in her compositions, Bustin makes particular use of the edge of her works, reflecting light off carefully chosen colours and finishes to extend the composition onto the wall. These effects can only be appreciated by exploring the work in person. Perhaps unsurprisingly Rehearsal connects her work with the Modernist Russian ballet icon Vaslav Nijinsky (1890 - 1950) who only ever wanted his performances seen in person – never recorded.
Nijinsky pioneered a revolutionary use of symmetry and sensual expression leading to a new era for modern ballet. In her own practice, Bustin explores the effects of balance, placement and dimension but one of the aspects that intrigue her most about the dancer is his obsession with the idea that the audience ‘could feel him’. This bridges with Bustin’s eagerness to raise the emotional encounter with the artwork beyond the immediate and purportedly rational aims of Minimalism and Modernist Geometric Abstraction. In this sense, Rehearsal connects beyond Nijinsky to the wider thinking of the Belle Epoch (1870-1914); a new social order that favoured fresh modes of emotional expression within the arts in opposition to the ‘rational’ Enlightenment thinking.
Any reference to prior movements is critically interpreted by the artist on her own terms and the result of all this careful drawing together is work where nothing is arbitrary. Despite this, Bustin embraces a certain permeability in her work that invites viewers to entertain their own perspectives, rather than fostering the kind of singular and absolute, dogmatic approach so often found in related Modernist movements.