Rodolphe Olcèse (web review À bras le corps 06.07.2015)
Colette Dubois (L’Art Même n°53, october 2011)
Claude Lorent (La Libre Belgique 01.18.2012)
Dominique Mathieu (press release of the exhibition Fantômes, Les Brasseurs 2011)
Cinquante Degrés Nord 11.01.2012 (Arte Belgique/RTBF, chronique de Soraya Amrani et reportage de Joffrey Monnier)



Through the four levels of the Espace des Brasseurs in Liège, Jérôme MAYER offers a route that is both universal and unique.
Through drawing, installation and projection, he addresses a question that concerns us all and which obsesses him: how to accept the loss of the present moment? How to retain the fleetingness of time?
He favors video, the temporal medium par excellence; he uses its specificities, in a work that also evokes his “ancestors”: photography and cinema.

Freeze Frames
If Jérôme Mayer (Paris, 1967; lives and works in Liège) chose this medium to address his questions, it is because video takes time.
Even stopped, the image continues to be read, to vibrate, it is still the passage of time. This image does not exist in space, has no materiality (it was once an organization of iron oxide particles on a magnetic tape, today it is a suite of algorithms), it only exists in time.
Its image is impalpable, immaterial, fragile, but vibrant. It offers the possibility, if not of remembering the moments, at the very least of keeping track of them, if not of reliving them, of reproducing something of them.
In Aristotelian philosophy, the instant is the only element of time to truly exist, between the past which has been and which is no longer and the future which will be and is not yet. But no sooner is it spotted than it no longer exists.

For Kierkegaard, it is “the first reflection of eternity in time” *. Mayer’s work falls between the inevitability of the first – which we experience – and the promise of the second – which stems from a faith, if not in a god, perhaps in art.
For him, it is the banality of everyday life, of the present, which is a monument.
Jérôme Mayer is particularly attached to what he calls “phantom moments”: those that we believe, or rather that we hope, to be able to retain. Those whose loss plunges us into dread.

To translate this quest into images, Mayer has been recording (for several years now) traces of it in the eyes of people whom he asks to remain frozen in front of the camera for a few minutes. From this particular moment, made of immobility and concentration, he only keeps the gaze. Superimposed, he sometimes adds a time code: numbers that scroll and mark the inevitable flow of life.
Even when this count is absent from the image, it remains in the titles of the works, -an alignment of figures-; each thus becoming for a moment stopped, saved and captured in the electronic frame.

Recently, the artist focused on the last image: the one that happens when the shooting is over, which switches when the camera turns off and offers the gaze an unchosen image that could be attributed to chance. He collects them on super 8 films where they are then almost abstract – a streak of light in the screen -, or on video tapes where they are then more legible.
For Mayer, this image makes it possible to understand the sequence that it closes, to concentrate and contain all the others. It conceals a singular density.
To confront this last image, he projects it onto a large sheet of paper and reproduces its shapes with charcoal – a crumbly material – which he mixes with water. The resulting juice would remain fleeting, subject to erasure by time and/or movement, if it were not then fixed on the surface. It is not a question of transforming the acheiropoietic image into a representation, but of “revealing” – in the photographic sense of the term – its emotional power.
Some of these drawings are then transferred to aluminum surfaces, most of them anthropomorphic, so that the presence of the spectator is reflected there, that it participates in this impossible attempt to retain time.
But this drawing can also become the projection screen of the last image until it melts and disappears, leaving behind only an imprint. Time then disappears from the device which exhibits the passage from movement to fixity, from the immaterial to the material.

Exposing time
In the exhibition, Mayer leads the viewer to share his obsession with the passage of time, and therefore of life.
From the static but vibrant shot of a light bulb lit on a monitor to the projection visible on both sides of a metaphor of time – a book lets the wind leaf through it, each page like a passing moment, while movement light on paper joins duration.

Drawings and prints on aluminum dialogue with the videos.
In the cellar, the projection of “the last image” dialogues with the installation, more enigmatic and more intimate, of a cup in which a bottom of coffee has dried under a globe. Under the roof, a double projection on each side of a large screen poses back to back a scrolling gaze and a wind turbine
campaign whose shape and movement are somewhat reminiscent of the mechanical device used in cinematographic projectors, called the “Maltese cross” and which transforms a continuous rotational movement into a jerky rotation.

The simultaneous projection of the images is interspersed with black; it appears as a beat, a rhythm.
The spectator finds himself caught in the center of the installation and absorbs more than he receives the jerky images; he sees with the whole body.
Thus, from the cellar to the attic, the circle is complete, the spatialization of time restores to it the cyclical character of its ancient conception and opens up the possibility of the eternal return of the same.

Colette Dubois

* Soeren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety, Alcan, 1935.


At the Les Brasseurs art center in Liège, the visual artist Jérôme Mayer tries, in drawings, objects and videos, to retain the fleetingness of the moment. And to mention the duration.
How to account for both the moment, by definition elusive, and duration?
It seems to be this question that Jérôme Mayer, a French artist (Paris, 1967) who lives and works in Liège, is trying to answer.

To seize time is in a way to seize life, an uninterrupted sequence of a multitude of instants which ultimately constitute a temporal unfolding of which we can fix snippets by photography or a certain duration by video.
It is not surprising that in this research which does not focus on a beginning or an end, which is therefore not a questioning of the origin and the finality, which does not wish to evoke a precise narration, the artist privileges the video.
This means is the one that seems the most apt to transcribe temporality.
The double projection, face to face, of recorded glances is a fine demonstration of this which, in addition and
fortunately, also takes into account the human presence. However, we can ask ourselves if this way of using movement and real duration is not simply the most obvious, the one that sticks the most to a reality that we would like to be able to freeze while preserving the breath of life?
What is the most powerful, evocative vision? The one that materializes temporality or the one that evokes it by imprint? In other words the video on the one hand, in particular with the pages of a book which turn constantly, classic image if there is one; on the other, objects or drawings.
By proposing, in an effective staging, the vision of a cup, sacred under a globe when it has obviously been used, the artist uses an object to operate an account to go back in time. The present in this case is a testimony of the past and in principle the future does not exist, except in the form of a continuous present.
To travel in time from this object it is necessary to appeal to oneself, to one’s memories, to one’s imaginative capacities which can go, why not, to narrative fiction.

His large drawings and other images are part of the same process because they are now immutable, with uncertain subjects, barely perceptible since some go as far as almost total erasure, but frozen in their state, they evoke temporality and the probable disappearance without delivering anything concrete.
So in the end, it is in the complementarity between the statics of the objects and the movement of the video that the desired temporal space is declined.

Claude Lorent

(Press release)

At “Les Brasseurs”, the “6th Sense” cycle continues to host from Wednesday, December 14, 2011 to Saturday, February 4, 2012 the exhibition “Fantômes” by the artist Jérôme Mayer.
“Fantômes”: an invitation to contemplation, to stopped and suspended moments, to a universe made of shadows and lights. His videos, his sound and visual installations, his large drawings, his photograms all speak to us of the desperate flight of time to capture its imprint, its trace, the last image.

Time, this “vigilant and disastrous enemy” evoked by Baudelaire, its inescapable flow and its great indifference to the human condition are therefore at the center of this subtle and complex work that Jérôme Mayer has been carrying out from these themes for ten years. and that he offers to the “Brewers” ​​like a slow wandering where the gaze – his and ours – really takes on meaning.

Any work, it is obvious, reflects the man who hides behind the artist. In this respect, there is in Jérôme Mayer a kind of osmosis between the choice of his plastic and videographic language and his metaphysical questions. “I have the feeling, he writes, of being more part of the history of life than of that of art, and the plastic means that I use are deeply rooted in my life issues and in my attempts to accept the unacceptable. I oscillate between fear and recklessness. The video allowed me to experience this escape, to symbolize it, to relieve myself of objects, to lighten my weight. I show moments that no longer exist. In my desperate efforts to combine living and dying at the same time, I draw an impossible mourning of the present. It is this terrible observation common to all that will therefore be embodied, but with infinite gentleness, implicitly and ensuring the coherence of all of Jérôme Mayer’s works.

Monumental images offering the evanescent vision of the shadows of a light foliage on the blank pages of a white book that the wind lifts, tirelessly.
Ebb and flow of the waves, perpetual movement of the water breaking on a rock which itself resists.
Wind turbines in halftones captured in the sky and rotating to infinity.
Large charcoal drawings, this very fragile material, where the eye guesses rather than sees the silhouette of a little boy, the hair of a little girl sitting on a swing, a table set to celebrate a birthday, the carefree moments of a bathing child.
Or again, sweeping the space flooded by its light, this gigantic hourglass in which are inscribed, face to face, this play of crossed gazes, these eyes which stare at us and whose pupil reflects a little festive horse spinning on itself fairground: reminder of childhood, music boxes, happy memories of times gone by.
And, here and there, the artist’s signature: a time-code, unwinder of our modern time, the seconds, the minutes and the hours which pass.

Mysterious, impalpable, poetry is everywhere, echoing the artist’s philosophical questions but transcending its harshness, like a beautiful escape that avoids all the pitfalls of demonstration. Neither didactic nor moralizing, his delicate and modest work imposes nothing except – just return of the pendulum – a little time to soak it up. “I have no message, he tells us, only an obvious fear of seeing life being lost”.
“Let’s not try to convince” suggested Georges Braque. Yes, incontestably, this phrase resonates in the work of Jérôme Mayer; probably because before having his studio, he traveled the world and learned the relativity of things and the multiplicity of points of view.

In fact, his life looks like a road movie before the times made it a genre. At 21, he left everything and left for Africa, destination Abyssinia, backpack and first drawings. Long journey, road books, notebooks of doubt, it is this work that he will present in Paris to pass the entrance exam to the Beaux-Arts. His teachers, Jean-Michel Alberola and Paul-Armand Gette, encouraged him to persevere in the path of art that Africa had just revealed to him. Then follow the years of apprenticeship and those of travel which are inseparable for him.
After the Beaux-Arts from which he left in 1993, he obtained a series of scholarships which took him from Alaska to Arizona, from British Columbia to Chiapas, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, where he met artists: Marc Lewis, Ken Lum and Jeff Wall, whose classes he took, the Navajo sandpainter artist Joe Ben Jr, whose assistant he was, but also and above all other forms of thought and culture that would feed his thinking and broaden his field. artistic.

In 2000, back in France, he joined the tumultuous and avant-garde artists of the “Ateliers 800001″ in Montreuil and at the same time worked, as a video trainer, in various educational and cultural projects such as this image workshop that he led for three years at the prison of La Santé in Paris.
At that time, the idea was also born of reconciling travel, meetings and videos by setting up a recording and broadcasting studio in a truck baptized “Alaskaway” with which he intended to travel the roads and capture the stories of those that he crosses.

At the moment, this artist-nomad has put his bag down in Liège. He teaches video at Beaux-arts de Liège and lives in the countryside with his wife and two little girls, convinced that he is making one of his most beautiful trips there.

Dominique Mathieu
December 2011.