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J’ouvre les yeux et tu es là

Collection presentation

Bringing together about fifteen pieces from the Mudam Collection, including several recent acquisitions, the exhibition J’ouvre les yeux et tu es là (I open my eyes and you are there) concerns works in which the fragile movement of the appearance and disappearance of images is rendered palpable: the ephemeral manifestation of a shadow, the emergence of a figure on the surface of a sheet of paper or a canvas, reflection, projection, the production of internal images...

Untitled (ouverture dans le mur, lumière), 2007
© Image : Marie Cool Fabio Balducci

The exhibition title comes from one of the paintings from the series Le monde voit (2000) (The World Sees) by Rémy Zaugg, a series which generates questions about the gaze, appearance and visibility through a succession of phrases addressed to the “world”. The title evokes the original moment of the image, the instant of waking when the contours of the world still appear to be imprecise, floating and vaporous. In the inversion of the gaze it presents, it also highlights in the works on show the central role attributed to the experience of the viewer: the snippets, snatches and sketches that make up these works are like the gaps through which other images, such as mental images, evocations and memories, are filtered.

These works contain something of the “riddle” that art historian Hans Belting locates at the very origin of the notion of the image: the mystery of “the presence of an absence”. The central role played by the phenomena of shadows, projection, reflection and disappearance in the exhibition could also be discussed in terms of the place they occupy in stories about the image passed down from Antiquity. One could think, for example, of the famous story of the invention of the figurative image, as related by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History (1st century), concerning a young woman from Corinth who drew a line around the shadow projected on the wall of the face of the young man with whom she was in love before he went away.