Centro de Artes Visuales Fundación Helga de Alvear

from January 22h 2016 to March 5th 2017

Jean-Marc Bustamante. Transitory Spaces

At the end of the 1970s, a time still dominated by a documentary or instrumental conception of photography, Jean-Marc Bustamante bursted in with a particular kind of work that as an intermediate space that, independently of its material nature, aspires to spark off intellectual processes for the spectator.

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Panorama entre-nous, 2005

Panorama entre-nous, 2005











At the end of the 1970s, a time still dominated by a documentary or instrumental conception of photography, Jean-Marc Bustamante bursted in with a particular kind of work that demanded an artistic place for photography. Despite being considered by many as a pioneer in this field, the artist does not define himself as a photographer, or a painter or sculptor, despite the importance that these disciplines have in his oeuvre. He considers his work to be an intermediate space that, independently of its material nature, aspires to spark off intellectual processes for the spectator.

With the title Transitory Spaces, this exhibition brings together a rich and diverse group of works belonging to the Helga de Alvear Collection, which makes it possible to cover some of the most important moments of a body of work that rejects any narrative or illusory intention and acts as a revealing element.

To do this, a transitory state is employed that affects the subject of his images. This is clearly visible in his first Tableaux, “slow snapshots” that take limit-spaces between the urban and the natural sublime at a moment of change, and are presented devoid of any human presence but full of its vestiges and impressions; in the geographical vagueness of the urban views of the Something is Missing series, where humanity is made visible; or in the situation of the lake as a monochrome plane that thwarts verticality and restores abstraction in the very heart of hyperrealism in the L.P. series.

This being between is affirmed from a material point of view. So, while the specific nature of the photographic in his series Tableaux, S.i.M. and L.P. is articulated from a pictorial conception, the spontaneous pictorial gesture is presented in his Panoramas on methacrylate with the distance imposed on them by a mechanical process, and sculpture is conceived as a place in his Tables. Meanwhile, with a kind of intertextuality, the works echo each other. The centreless photographic compositions dilate and disperse our gaze which, on its way, draws a network of lines of force that recall the tangled abstract compositions of his Panoramas; photographic precision confronts the vague nature of the subject represented; the geometric merges with the organic; and the industrial nature of the materials and techniques is a harmonious contrast with the sensuality of candles and the warmth of colour.

And, as a final transitory space, each work is an intermediate space, “without attributes”, between the artist and the viewer –becoming patent in the title Panorama entre-nous–, from which emanates the tension necessary for us to be aware of the act of looking and the work can fully acquire its representative character.


26 works in exhibition works in exhibition


This French artist (Toulouse, 1952), the son of an Ecuatorian father and English mother, holds a distinguished position in contemporary European art. After studying Economics in his home town between 1969 and 1972, he then studied photography with Denis Brihat in Provence from 1973 to 1975. In 1977 he carried out his first Site, a photograph that would form part of a series later to be entitled Tableaux, which was first presented in its entirety at the Berne Kunsthalle in 1994. At around the same time, in 1978, he started to work as an assistant to the photographer and filmmaker William Klein. He did this until 1981, when he decided to dedicate himself fully to his artistic activity.
Between 1983 and 1987 he participated in a collaborative partnership. Together with Bernard Bazile, and using the name BAZILEBUSTAMANTE, they were to attract the art world’s attention with their projects involving visual codes and systems of signs, exhibited at different galleries and at the Musée Saint-Pierre in Lyon in 1986.

From 1987 he continued to work solo in his own particular photographic oeuvre. He now started to produce sculptures, installations and screen prints on methacrylate in an apparently asystematic project that, despite its heterogeneity, makes up one of contemporary art’s most coherent and unified artistic programmes.

With this programme, he represented France at the Venice Biennale (2003) and participated at the Paris Biennial (1980), the São Paulo Biennial (1994) and at the Kassel Documentas VIII, IX and X (1987, 1992 and 1997). His work has been shown at monographic exhibitions in some of the principal international museums, including the Berne Kunsthalle (1989 and 1994), Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1990), Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (1992), Galerie National du Jeu de Paume, Paris (1996), Tate Gallery, London (1998), Yokohama Museum of Art (2002), Kunsthaus Bregenz and Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Etienne (2006), Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Strasburg (with Ed Ruscha) (2007), Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (2008) and Villa Medici, Roma (2011). Retrospectives of his work have begun this decade, starting in Moscow at the Ekaterina Cultural Foundation (2010), followed by the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds (2011) and the Sala Alcalá 31 in Madrid (2012).

In 2008, Jean-Marc Bustamante was awarded the French Chevalier of the Legion of Honour medal and from 2012 to 2015 he was director of the Toulouse International Art Festival. After many years of teaching, first sculpture, at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam (1990-1995) and at the École Superieur Nationale de Beaux-Arts in Paris (from 1996) and later painting at the Munich Kunstakademie (from 2010), he has recently been appointed director of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts.

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