The online editorial and curatorial project for systems, non-
Jane Bustin: Rehearsal at Copperfield Gallery, London
16 March -
A review by Laurence Noga
©Copyright Patrick Morrissey and Clive Hancock All rights reserved.
“The systems approach is compatible with the evidence that human decisions are largely based on an intuitive feeling of rightness – Rechtsgefuhl – but seeks to validate this subjective feeling by a massive information input, which stands in true correspondence with reality before being refracted through the unconscious.”
Jeffrey Steele (Systems, Arts Council 1972-
Jane Bustin’s material approaches allow an open system, without a hierarchy. They
include: fresco techniques; oil-
Together, the artist’s relaxed sense of geometry evident in her idiosyncratic solo exhibition,
Bustin works with a highly fragile phenomenology in her expanded approach to painting. This sense of ‘memorial’ is interwoven with techniques that are always meaningful, and which bring together a systematic emphasis on materiality with an intuitive proportional balance. Like Donald Judd, Bustin uses pairs as a single work. She is prepared to generate, or test, arbitrary oppositions in her approach to symmetry and asymmetry, combined with her technical virtuosity in surface facture. With Bustin the relationship between the artist and the object is always equal.
Faun, acrylic, polyurethane, copper pins, balsa wood, 50cm x 100cm, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Copperfield, London
The influence of the Russian ballet star Vaslav Nijinsky (1890 -
Spectre, acrylic, oil, wood, aluminium, 30cm x 35cm, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Copperfield, London
Research, collaboration, and correspondence all seem to have equal weight in Bustin’s vivid shorthand of privacy and illusion. In her work Spectre (2015), Bustin’s line of enquiry synchronises the different surface qualities. She uses two adjoining panels to register an apparition with unequal time value. The painting’s assembly and colour decisions disturb that passage of time, allowing the colour, and its spatial depth, to register in the viewer’s subconscious. The side of this work interacts with the spectator, flickering enough colour peripherally to be visible as you view the front of the work. This phosphorescence attracts your curiosity, makes you look at the sides with equal scrutiny. The small deep red rectangle at the bottom corner of the Prussian/Ultramarine blue panel has an intense registration, played off the frontal white rectangle.
The manipulation of this structure calls to mind the relief constructions of Victor Pasmore, where the painted wood and plastic (e.g. Relief Construction in White, Black and Indian Red, 1961) is handled in an instinctive manner. I get right down underneath this picture to investigate the stained surface of the red /silver panel, but it’s the light green/red lines painted down its side, with a minute red rectangle at its base, which creates that relationship between form and substance.
Nijinsky’s Window, oil, acrylic, aluminium, porcelain, oxides, 30cm x 28cm, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Copperfield, London
In one of Bustin’s conversations with Steele in 2014 they talked specifically about
Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. That sense of insight feels embedded into Bustin’s
operations and assemblage. Nijinsky’s Window (2015), 30 x 28 cm, oil, acrylic, aluminium,
porcelain, oxides, has a bodily emphasis in the handling of the surface facture,
but the power and strength of the dancer feels unbalanced, perhaps alluding to Nijinsky’s
social awkwardness. The thin, slightly inflated porcelain ceramic feels torn and
dysfunctional, hinting at Nijinsky’s fragile mental health just after the First World
War. The in-
Rehearsal II, copper, acrylic, oxides, cloth, 80cm x 50cm, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Copperfield, London
Rehearsal II (2015) is strategically persistent in its placement; the mirrored copper
surface nags at our self-
Nijinsky I, overall, acrylic, thule, polyurethane, wood, 28cm x 44cm, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Copperfield, London
In the symmetrical work Nijinsky I , (2015) the use of opacity and transparency introduces real and virtual depth, with an internal compositional relationship. The work is sensual, psychologically charged. Bustin states that the materials include ‘thule’; this is a term used in medieval geography to denote an unknown place, beyond the borders of the known world. The light and its illusionism connect to a feeling of unreality. You start to notice the small white ceramic cloth, its connotations shifting the balance of the show, reminding me of the work of Joseph Beuys with his interest in different substances, and how they could be explored through spirituality and ecstasy.
Rose, Copper, oil acrylic, polyurethane. 30cm x 42cm, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Copperfield, London
Rose (2015) draws our attention further towards the problems of construction. This
work seems to have the greatest sense of a machine aesthetic. By this I mean that
it impacts on the viewer through a sense of co-
Nijinsky, like Steele, was a revolutionary. His use of symmetry and 'sensual expression' questioned the role of choreography, to the point where he became paranoid, even frightened of the other dancers in his company. Bustin explores this sense of vulnerability and subversive attitude by making her works objects of desire. Through a kind of dematerialisation, she invites recognition of the perceptual/ psychological/physical. The whole installation adds this extra dimension through a sensation of sound and movement. Its undulation and acceleration is dependent not only on the notion of sequence, but in its very intimate exploration of symmetry and resonance.
The strength of the show is its ability to engage us in a series of relationships
which push the viewer towards a systematic/ syntagmatic order. That system has an
elaborate complexity in which the conversation between language, literature, linguistics
and logic combine. There is an inherent chain of reaction, which unwraps, for the
spectator, a dialogue between concept and object. This multi-
The exhibition runs weekly, Wednesday -