Jane Bustin Explores Ballets Russes Legend Vaslav Nijinsky In New Exhibition

Jane Bustin

A new exhibition of work by Jane Bustin (British b. 1964) presents a series of paintings that utilises the Modernist Russian ballet icon Vaslav Nijinsky (1890 – 1950) as a central reference. The poise and fragility of ballet with every worthy composition of bold, in its own right is underpinned by immense strength. Similarly her paintings balance the fragility of millimetre thin ceramic, fabric and pale tones with hard edges, metal and vivid colour.

Bustin’s expanded understanding of painting and mixing fresco techniques with oil washed aluminium and acrylic panel painting, using glazes, mirrored copper with latex, polyurethane and woven cotton are furthered through experimentation and confident application in Bustin’s solo exhibition Rehearsal. 

Reflection is inherent in the work due to the polished metal panels that recur in her compositions, but Bustin makes particular use of the edge of her works, reflecting light off carefully chosen colours and finishes to extend the composition onto the wall. These effects can only be appreciated by exploring the paintings in person, connecting her work with Nijinsky who only ever wanted his performances experienced first hand – never recorded.

Nijinsky pioneered a revolutionary use of symmetry and ‘sensual expression’ leading to a new era for modern ballet. In her own practice, Bustin explores the effects of balance, placement and dimension, but what intrigues her most about the dancer is his obsession with the idea that the audience ‘could feel him’. This bridges with Bustin’s eagerness to raise the emotional encounter with the artwork beyond the immediate and purportedly rational aims of Minimalism and Modernist Geometric Abstraction. In this sense, Rehearsal connects beyond Nijinsky to the wider thinking of the Belle Epoch (1870 – 1914); a new social order that favoured fresh modes of emotional expression within the arts in opposition to the ‘rational’ Enlightenment thinking.

Any reference to prior movements is critically interpreted by the artist on her own terms and the result of all this careful drawing together is work where nothing is arbitrary. Despite this, Bustin embraces a certain permeability that invites viewers to entertain their own perspectives, rather than fostering the kind of singular and dogmatic approach so often found in related Modernist movements.

Jane Bustin studied at Portsmouth Polytechnic and lives and works in London. She has been exhibited at The Whitechapel – London, Ingleby Gallery – Edinburgh, Salon 94 – New York, Walker Art Gallery – Liverpool, Jerwood – London, Drawing Room – London – the British Library – London. Her work is in private and public collections including The Victoria and Albert Museum – London, Chelsea School of Art and Design – London, DLA Piper – London, Ferens Art Gallery – Hull, and Goldman Sachs – London.

Image:Faun (2015) acrylic, polyeurathane, copper pins, balsa wood, 50cm x 100cm

Jane Bustin Copperfield 16 March, 6 – 9pm Runs weekly, Wednesday – Saturday, 12 – 6pm Until 6 May, 2016