Jean-Marc Bustamante


He defines the starting point of his creative process as “an instant when he feels at ease with himself”. Wherever the geographical setting for his images may be – whether Japan, Spain or Switzerland – is of practically no importance to his work. What interests him is the image he carries inside, subject to change in the same way that he evolves. This wager that the artist makes of himself gives his work a complex, introspective quality, which in many cases takes the form of hermetic objects of silence, dense with information: of genuine objects of thought.

That is why Bustamante’s work is usually interpreted through notions of distance, intellectual coldness or emotional filtering. What truly hide behind the forms of his images are ideas and aesthetic investigations: a circular layout like a vague form of suspense where the search leads to the starting point of a ‘mystery’, when that very ‘mystery’ has vanished along the way. Like the literature of Joyce, Proust, Kafka or Pavese or the films of Bresson or Antonioni, his images are disnarratives insofar as they avoid easy causal implications; circulate in a dilated, digressive space; take recourse to exercises of thought through an inner monologue; or ride the drift of meaning as a way of expressing a dramatic twist in the perception of the world. It is a narrative based on a contingent logic rather than a random one which often runs the risk of seeming unclear, but the challenge of the mystery urges the spectator to take a more active part in the interpretation process.

During his association with Bernard Bazile under the name of BAZILBUSTAMANTE in the 1980s, he worked on the conventions and exhibition of art by producing varied, heterogeneous objects with materials from art and the everyday world where the sole commitment was to the acknowledgement of vision, contemplation and the illusory nature of the image.

Thus all of Bustamante’s work is a ‘mise en paysage’: a geometrically-constructed space with precise outlines and transient discoveries left morally and psychologically undefined. It is a space that takes the landscape as a paradigm and is viewed as an interstice, like the expression of a particular state, or a ‘tableau’. In short, it is ‘any space’ (to follow the formulations of Gilles Deleuze and the anthropology of Marc Augé about ‘non-places’, or the analogy with Foucault’s heterotopias as spaces of deviation freed from any referential function) converted into an ‘imago mundi’.

This development of an image of the world is one of the foremost themes in the work of this artist who says he takes photographs since that is the simplest and most immediate way of capturing it. The different series of works that make up his production, such as the Tableaux, Panoramas or Lumières, amongst others, are in the end slow motion snapshots that record situations taken in constant metamorphosis. These are intermediate zones where two forces join: one that is still trying to link events, or structure a story in some way; and another that selects and stretches in time to capture the eccentric waves of its own echo. That is certainly why his images speak more of atmospheres than of places and turn photographic, pictorial and sculptural images into an optical riddle.

Bea Espejo



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