The title of the show is drawn from Augustine’s Confessions (AD 397–400), the autobiographical books in which the early theologian and ‘doctor of grace’ chronicled his journey through youthful sin into Christianity. Augustine arrived in Carthage as a 17-year-old innocent, where he was met by overwhelming hedonistic temptation, the “cauldron of unholy loves.” He succumbed.
Busk’s body of work for this exhibition is about arrival in a new place. With a series of intensely built-up figurative works in painting, collage, mosaic, ceramic and bronze—often in assemblage form—To Carthage Then I Came takes the viewer to the people who populate that place. The traveler is armed with faith and a moral compass, the tools of pilgrimage, yet finds himself emotionally unprepared for the characters he encounters.
Busk depicts figures in motion, the banished and deposed who carry the weight of their past experience, wrought by their miles but still in one piece. Busk visualizes and enacts the cycles of endeavor and failure that propel the pioneer as much as the exile. He follows a rhythm of rigorous material invention—his new collages with bolted-on clay elements elude ready categorisation—while obeying an unbound intuitive expression inherited from Art Brut and CoBRA. Busk is a student of the grotesque tradition: his thickly accreted characters tell of both profound pathos and a feral state. To share their space is to join the steady but uncertain journey to their destination.