Our July solo artist shares her inspiration for her exhibit Eastern Light.
by Julia Chance
You could say that artistic inspiration struck Yasmin Bussiere long before she picked up a paintbrush. Time spent living in Central Asia, immersing herself in the history and culture of the region, left a strong impression that informs a lot of her work. In her solo exhibit Eastern Light, currently on view at The Art League Gallery, the artist interprets the beauty of Central Asian landscapes in radiant abstracts. Her paintings are organic, instinctive, and transportive.
Bussiere, who has a degree in interior design, worked in private industry, helmed a small arts and crafts business, and taught English abroad before pursuing art full-time. “I have always wanted to create artwork, and after coming back from teaching in late 2012, I decided the following year to try and see what I could do, with periods of time when I did not do any art as I ended up going abroad again to teach and had to take care of other things.”
“The first piece of art that I was especially proud of was Partitions, a miniature abstract with geometric shapes in gold and rust colors,” she recalls. “It was a perfect title because when you are in the Middle East to learn more about the culture and people you have to go through steps. Everything appears closed on the outside, and then you pass through gateways into the culture, the land, and the civilization and that’s when you discover what’s really there.”
Partitions, along with two other paintings she submitted, made Art Impact International’s 2018 Golden Juried Competition at Pepco Gallery in Washington, D.C. “I felt that I was an artist when I got accepted,” she says.
Early achievements and her solo show aside, Bussiere says she is just getting started. “There is a lot that I would like to achieve—improving my technique, going further in-depth with colors and textures and space. I’m not a young person in age, but I’m a young artist.”
Here, she elaborates on her inspirations and what she hopes viewers take away from Eastern Light.
How do you describe your artistry?
I am a mixed media artist, and rich metallic textures are my signature. I combine inspirations to create pieces by applying several layers of mixed media on canvas in general, and it is a reflection of emotions and living experiences. I enjoy working with metallic paints, metallic pens, acrylics, gold leaf, and oil pastels because they blend well and they are easy to mix.
What is it about metallic colors that appeal to you?
Well, metallics for me is an especially important part of the cultures coming from Central Asia, which is the focus of my show Eastern Light. Gold, silver—those are very symbolic colors that you are going to find there and are a great part of their history and civilization. I also really like the glow that is reflected from these special colors along with the depth and the movement.
Describe Eastern Light.
Eastern Light is a path that I have been on because I was in Central Asia and traveled along the Silk Roads. I had family ties there and we lived in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. This was a great opportunity for me to connect with the culture, the roots, and see one of the most amazing parts of the world. This was a while back, but it made such a strong impression. It was unforgettable.
Did the concept, or the art, in your exhibit change any from when you first proposed it two years ago?
One thing that changed a lot was the sizes of my pieces. Up until the moment I applied for the solo exhibition, I was working on Bristol, creating 3 inch squared miniatures and working on small canvas boards. My proposal included the triptych Eastern Light I, II, III, 30 inch by 15 inch panels on canvas, that is in this show. The jurors’ recommendation was to go bigger, so I did. That was the hardest part for me. I also thought that I would be working only with geometric shapes, and masses of space and color. I ended up incorporating the human element and the animal element, like the horsemen of Central Asia, the camels, the nomads, as well as architecture that you see in the opening piece The Portal of Imagination.
Do you have a favorite piece in your show?
The Golden Storm, where a herd of horses is crossing a huge space. That is a good example of the grandiose landscapes where you may come across animals or people but not every day, nor all of the time. And these horses are special. They are the Akhal-Teke, a unique breed from Turkmenistan. They are very big with golden coats. You would think that they are not adapted to barren lands because they’re delicate, unlike the Mongolian horses which are stocky and furry, but actually, they are adapted to this harsh climate as well. These horses were especially admired by the Chinese who thought they had divine powers because they were “the golden horses.”
What are the questions or ideas that drive your art?
How to take inspiration from old cultures dating centuries ago and translate it into something that is not archaic or outdated. I am trying to portray timelessness.
Describe your work process.
I usually do not sketch out anything or prepare anything in advance. I get an idea of something I would like to share. Art is very personal with me. And I go from there. A lot of my work is coming from the feelings and impressions that I had while I was in a certain place. I do not make art every day, but I do look at images on the web and I look at art books. I go out in our front garden space where we have lots of flowers, plants, herbs, and two apple trees. I get inspiration from the beautiful colors of nature.
What artists, contemporary or past, inspire you?
I am inspired by a lot of artists. Of course, for me, impressionism is one of the most fabulous movements that ever have happened. I lived in France for many years. I had the privilege of being able to see so many impressive Impressionist works in many museums, and of course many other styles of art from different periods. Two Uzbek artists who have inspired me are Javlon Umarbekov and Chingiz Akhmarov. He was a Tatar from Russia who immigrated to Uzbekistan. He was a classical artist. He did miniature figures that had a magical, floating feeling that is represented often in Central Asian art, whereas Umarbekov was more gestural, using strong tones and strong colors. Those are two artists that made an impression, and I had the great honor of meeting them both.
What are you working on these days?
I am continuing a little bit more on the Eastern Light theme right and I am thinking of trying to create more textural work and perhaps focus on other geographical zones that made lasting impressions as well.
What do you hope viewers glean from Eastern Light?
That there can still be magical places and spaces that are not overcrowded, that are free from urban environments, where you have a connection with nature, earth, the elements, the skies, the desert, and storms; where time has stopped or at least slowed down and you look around you and don’t think about cell phones, messages, and internet. There is something else out there.
Eastern Light is on view through August 8.