Jean Rustin, oil on canvas, 1992-97

In the early 1970s, the French artist Jean Rustin made a complete turnaround in his career, he exchanged his abstract painting style for a totally innovative figurative visual language. With a virtuoso technique and an extraordinary colour palette, he painted his peculiar nudes. The bare genitals, often in a sexual act, are anything but erotic. These scenes, in which the body as element of pleasure and torment merge into a whole, respond to the emotions of the viewers. As it were, we are confronted with ourselves in a way we rather avoid, as if they represent the naked truth of ourselves. Rustin stands for affection, sentiment, vulnerability, the psyche and physical deterioration.

‘Sur le banc dans le jardin’ draws attention because of the staring melancholic eyes. The minimal spatiality and grey colour tones enhance the inner sadness that we notice in these figures.


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