The online editorial and curatorial project for systems, non-
Patrick Morrissey interviewed Jane Bustin
PM I was at your recent show with Lina Lapelyte at Austin Forum in London, and
at the time I asked you several questions about the significant influencing factors
that motivate your work. I would like to re-
JB Yes, I think I am primarily interested in the material quality of the surface and how this has the ability to evoke and transcend beyond its actual physical properties. I do not necessarily see this approach changing, as my interest and access to materials is endless; however, I am interested in developing a more interactive relationship with the work, addressing the encounter with the audience, perhaps through sound or movement.
Tablet 4 (diptych) Acrylic, oil, paper and latex, 28cm x 43cm, 2014
Christina (triptych), Nylon, chiffon and oil on wood, 28cm x63cm, 2014
Christina the Astonishing VI, Acrylic on gesso on wood with copper, 40cm x 35cm 2014
JB This is always the most difficult question -
PM Thank you, Jane Bustin
PM Broadly speaking, artists working within the context of formal abstraction are
usually aware of the ‘baggage’ of art history, and may strive to de-
But apart from any religious or spiritual / art-
PM Do you think that text should play a role in presentation, either in the form of a written essay, for example, to physically accompany the paintings, or even in the titles of each piece? Or is it enough that the work relies on being accessed purely in terms of visual language, its context within formal abstraction and its signifiers?
JB As I said before, I am happy if some viewers want to respond just to the physical visual properties of the paintings as this is their primary function. The titles and accompanying texts are there as documentation for further interest or research and will offer a 'branch' to viewers who require an understanding of the paintings through other means.
PM You have made reference to music, science and theology as being fundamental intellectual components in the development of a piece of work or a series. How do you think you succeed, or interpret this? Do you think the viewer might instantly recognise these references, or is that secondary to the final outcome? Are the influences simply triggers that initiate a thought process around the ‘making’ of the final object?
JB Exactly. I feel the references are important to me, as this is how I trace the origins of my work. I do not feel it is imperative for the viewer to know these origins, but I like to offer links to the references, either by the titles or catalogue documentation. This enables the viewer to be a part of the working practice and gain greater insight into the final outcome of the paintings.
PM You have used the term ‘Haptic’ in regard to your approach to work. In terms of scale, proportion etc., there are many historic conventions and didactic systems of rules which have developed to enable artists, architects and designers to achieve ‘correct’ proportions. We are familiar with systems that explain concepts such as the Golden Section, but in your own case, how do you define this perfection? Does it have a reference, or is it a case of what looks ‘right’ in a composition, irrespective of convention?
JB I was taught in part by the constructivist painter and theorist Jeffrey Steele, and found these theories hugely influential. However, I did not feel this particular 'system' approach to making paintings suited my way of working. I do work with a certain amount of structure, based on proportions which come either from the materials themselves or are linked to the subject matter, but I do not like to be restricted by these 'rules', and will respond intuitively to the appearance of the work. Interestingly, I usually find there is a mathematical balance that coincides with the final aesthetic; I loosely refer to this as a 'significant geometry'.
PM I note from closer examination of your paintings that the support, whether it
JB The paintings have developed in this way in order to insist on the paintings only being experienced, and seen, completely, by the viewer who is physically present. I feel that painting's power and future lies in its inherent physicality and is only complete in a 'face to face' encounter . Architecture is paramount, in that I assume it is obvious that most recent paintings rely on white walls and a natural light source as the optimum conditions in which to view them. I consider the work has failed to communicate this when I find the work has not been hung in these conditions.
PM Expanding on the last question, can you describe the broader source material and intellectual influences that you draw upon in your work, and what specifically interests you about these subjects or influences?
JB Influences come visually from 14th Century frescos, 15th Century Northern European painting, iconography, modernist architecture and design, fabrics, books, hardware stores, Japanese ceramics, neon signs, cosmetics, sweet wrappers…. and intellectually from Modernist literature and poetry, music, theology. I am particularly fascinated by the Modernist philosophy: instead of painting what I see, I paint what it feels like to see.
Tablet 3, Acrylic and gesso on paper and wood, 20 x 25cm, 2014
Tablet 2 Acrylic and paper on wood, 20cm x 15cm, 2014
Christina the Astonishing, Oil and acrylic on gesso with copper
35cm x 40cm, 2013
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