I often take road trips throughout the country in search of abandoned homes and structures. I am drawn to spaces that hold within them the evidence of time. Places that at one time functioned, but now are broken down, mere shadows of what they once had been.
The storytelling aspects of the work are meant to be nonlinear, holding at times multiple perspectives of the same event. This method of narration is very similar to the way we recall memories of childhood. The work explores ideas of home, shelter, and the way we create our personal space. Color is crucial to the work. The sp[aces that I create are haunting and at times uninviting. I use brightly saturated color as a lure for the viewer. The use of color becomes another way of creating tension within the work.
The physical application starts with the laying out of an underlining skeletal grd structure in order to begin creating the space. This space is quickly opposed by the use of stencil work using spray paint. I then thickly layer paint using a variety of large palette knives over this grid, often times covering the majority of it up. While the paint is still wet I scrape back into it to retrieve pieces of the structure. After the paint dries, I reclaim parts of the structure and repeat the above process, the whole time weaving symbols and personal icons within the space, as well as coating the surface with thin transparent layers of glaze. The surface qualities that I seek to obtain in the paintings hold the same rich history as the structures that I photograph.
Space is critical in understanding the context of the narrative. I want the viewer to feel as though they can walk into these spaces. Lately I have become interested in the idea of creating framing devices that relate to the physical two-dimensional surface of the painting and in a way, oppose the pictorial illusion of space, adding to the complexity of the work. Frames are typically used to safely contain precious items and sacred memories. I use these same ornate devices in a whole new context. This element is used to frame fading memories, abandoned structures, and to contain emptiness. I consider the work to be a contemporary extension of the rich tradition of narrative painting. – Nicholas Bustamante
Nicholas Bustamante lives and paints in Ruston, Louisiana, where he teaches painting at Louisiana Tech University. He moved to the south from Los Angeles.