Rémy Jacquier

Pictures at an exhibition

January 27 - February 26, 2022

Rémy Jacquier

Pictures at an exhibition

January 27 - February 26, 2022


Al Imanû Bil Ghaib[1 ]

The art of Remy Jacquier doesn’t try to make anything visible. It is not its intention. It can seem very surprising that an artist does not try to make something visible as we have come to expect from every artistic endeavor. However, if we believe Michel de Certeau, “seeing is devouring. [...] Painters know its danger. They play with that fire. [...] Some fight lightness casting shadows on it. But, among painters, some are possessed by the passion of seeing: they give things to light and lose them, cast away in the visible. We are all painters in the end, even if we don’t build theaters to stage this war between seeing and reality. Some resist this voracious fascination; others give in to it only for a time, caught by a vision that no longer knows what it sees; many rush -foolishly?- toward the bliss that will be the end of their world.”[2]

Where does Jacquier’s work stand between the fascination of seeing and the fight against the things seen?

In this new exhibition, entitled by the artist -with some voluntary yet typical ambiguity- Pictures at an exhibition, the artwork becomes the theater of a fight between the act of seeing and the things seen. Here, the things to see disappear into models and reappear in photos. The models – if they are indeed so- are made after a text resulting from a reversed archeological process using braille. The artist drew on a text by Diderot [4], summarizing it in a concatenation of a few letters, B-O-U-C-H-E-R-A-D-I-N-F-G; the latter being the amalgamation of the names of the artists the philosopher is commenting on: Boucher, Baudouin and Fragonard. Each model-object proposes a possible sound variation put in volume after having been translated into braille. We said sound and not image, since the artist looks not to see but to hear volumes, the same way he expects us to look at sounds like a synesthete[5]. And while the models on the walls camouflage the volumes, the photographs, also hung on the walls, bring them back into a fictional exhibition. A -strangely non-repetitive- ritornello[6] thus unfolds between a shrouded reality and a fiction giving the illusion of the real. Remy Jacquier continues on the path opened by his very first drawings, searching for a world where visible things disappear to leave room for what is commonly called Al Ghaib[7] in Muslim and Arabic philosophy, which characterizes the things that lie beyond our perception. Otherwise said, the exact opposite of Saint Thomas’s incredulity.

Is the artist searching for Al Imanû Bil Ghaib ? The concept is foundational in Islamic thinking, in which the visible is never tangible. And I would add that there is a prehistory to the things we see: they are imprisoned in the story of their history. Thus, the order of things is, to quote Averroes “[to] extract the unknown from the known”[8]. But, contrary to the philosophical quest, the artist conjures up, beyond reason, what we would call a mnemonic totality. We can easily understand that, when using language, we reactivate the entire linguistic community that preceded us, and that, when drawing a line on a blank page, we bring back the memory of the totality of lines that have preceded since cave paintings, if not further back in time.

But in the work of Remy Jacquier, other forms of -perhaps his own- unknown memories – come into play to expand the language outside the human community. What comes at the surface of drawing, or is meshed in his labyrinthine “models” is not only the result of men’s prehistory, but of a timeless space. An elsewhere that could only be captured “an instant before the world”[9]: a labyrinth out of time where -human, animal, vegetal and mineral- totality meet before coming to existence.

A labyrinth out of time where space escapes our perception. Here is an attempt at defining what has been folding and unfolding in Jacquier’s work started in the 1990s under the aegis of synesthesia on one hand -drawing being volume, volume being music, music being color and so on. And the common thread of places out of space and time on the other. Remy Jacquier has tried to escape the fascination exerted by visible things. He has been emptying the world from its visual totems in order to discover it and give viewers the possibility to encounter “SEEING.”

Abdelkader Damani

[1] This founding sentence of Islamic thinking can be translated by: believing in the unfathomable. The word “unfathomable” being defined as: “such that it cannot be captured in words”.

[2] Freely translated from Michel de Certeau, La faiblesse de croire, Paris, Seuil Coll. Essais, 1987

[3] LThis title is a reference to a series of six piano pieces punctuated with “promenades” composed by Modeste Moussorgski in June and July 1874. The work is dedicated to Vladimir Stassov.

[4] Denis Diderot, Fêtes galantes, salon de 1759 – the text commented on works by Boucher, Baudouin and Fragonard.

[5] Etym. 1865 from the Greek sunaisthêsis “simultaneous perception”. MED. A perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.

[6] A Short recurrent musical section that alternates with different episodes of contrasting material.

[7] The word Al Ghaib takes on various meanings. Aside from the “unfathomable” we already mentioned, in the Islamic tradition, it also means something hidden or concealed, but also what human intelligence cannot intuitively or directly comprehend. In her translation of the Koran, Denise Massion (1901-1994) translates it as “mystery”.

[8] Averroes, The Decisive Treatise.

[9] “An instant before the world” was the title we gave to the first contemporary art biennale of Rabbat we curated in 2019.

[10] Mahmoud Darwich, The Butterfly’s Garden, Copper Canyon Press, 2007


Artist : Rémy Jacquier

Visitor Information

Ceysson & Bénétière
21 rue Longue
69001 Lyon

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