The Memory of Pictures

"The image of an empty, disused theatre with dated architecture – a cinema, it would seem – showing almost its entire volume in landscape mode: Mathieu Dufois’ work, entitled Intermission, dated 2015, has to be considered as the obvious manifestation of his approach. Although the artist did not design it specifically as such, it is very difficult to imagine it in any other way. Indeed it is emblematic not only of his universe – a world apart, black, mental, loaded with memory – but from the outset it characterizes a style, a vision and a feeling all at once. The term "intermission", usually used in medical language to indicate the “break in the effects of an ailment”, indicates here the moment of a never-ending suspension, starting with the persistent strength of memory. The use that Dufois makes of black stone – an intense, deep and mat black substance mainly used during the Renaissance – contributes to enforcing this feeling. With one large format drawing, taking great care with the composition, or even the details, and using this paradoxical manner of inviting us to take a seat within the picture of space deserted of all human presence, he lays out the fundamental terms of his art.


The world is a theatre and Mathieu Dufois has chosen to recount this supported by a whole production of drawings, models and animated videos made from these, by making the dess(e)in or drawing the very basis of his work. By operating on the methods of recovery and recycling of sequences from old archives, films and photographs, he breathes new life into his figures, and turns them into actors of memorable scenes, transforming his workshop into a small film studio. Having become a master of DIY, he is second to none when it comes to reconstituting an entire urban settings as if it has sprung forward from the depths of our memory: here a wall covered with posters, one of which comes from Ziefried Follies, the famous series of very popular theatrical productions from Broadway between 1910 and 1930; there, a wasteland, an exact copy of a situations in Brussels which had attracted his attention; and here again, the ruins of building façades which are reminiscent of so many devastated sites across the world.


All of these are projects, images, models, cut out figures aimed at the production of small film units, like this ensemble of three films which make up La Trilogie des vestiges. A project to be approached “as an independent entity or as three distinct films”, the artist explains, “three films presenting the spread of a town in three stages of temporality: Ruins, Alteration, Prosperity.” In its form as in its content, Mathieu Dufois’ art falls within the scope of experimental practice and research. He does not subscribe to any consensus, or to any conformist design brief. His films do not claim to develop a narrative, much less any kind of demonstration. “They all concentrate on the question of memory”, he points out, so that there is no misunderstanding.


Yet, we know, there is nothing less perfect than memory. It is not always exact and it is made up of holes, of fragments, of breaches. However much we scour it, imagination often comes to the rescue to full in its gaps. This shows how ideal the terrain is for the artist since every work of art is, by nature, nothing but an artifact. What challenges us in Mathieu Dufois’ approach is the way, from these fragments of memory, he succeeds in restoring something of “the memory of a place, of an existence or of past events revealed by the town and its archeology”, he adds. “As if it had a human spirit, it is a town that projects its own memories and used them to fight against the irreversibility of time.”


In this way Dufois’ art offers a double experience: on the one hand, that of discovering behind the scenes, allowing the opportunity to discover the artistic and cinematographic production procedures that the artist puts in place; and on the other hand, that of a mental, sensitive and personal projection, within the very intricacies of his own memory, inventing his own terms for a story that individualizes while also universalizing him. His approach relies on the potentiality that “the memory of images” can find a prospective echo in time and in space.


Large quantities of preparatory drawings acknowledge the artist’s insatiable mind for research. Skits of daily life, sketches of figures drawn on the go, drawings of architectural details, of night views, etc., are all like frozen pictures taken from a common album. A window with its curtains in the wind, a man and a woman inside, a couple kissing in the grass, a woman dancing with the drive-in in the background, a crowd of men wearing hats, seen from behind…: clichés, memories, traces of life that belong to everyone, with no distinction of identity, and in which everyone can imagine themselves. The use of black stone loads Dufois’ pictures with a worrying reality, an almost ghost-like quality, somewhere between an emergence and a disappearance, thus helping to increase their mystery.


Furthermore, this is a recurrent measure in Mathieu Dufois’ work, just as it is, for example, in his work on sound which is a determining part in the perception of his films in the sense that, without being in any way illustrative, the soundtrack increased the memorial weight of the projected images. This brings a depth and intensity which echoes the graphic blackness. Moreover, we can again find this same quality in the series L’Eclipse (2013). Here Dufois paints scenes which are even more troubling in that he is not only playing on unspeakable situations that throw any attempt at rational analysis but also on the contrasted effects of “chiaroscuro” which place his images in an original dramaturgy. What is this man doing then, with his gasping mouth, his head back and shoulders hunched, as if he is lost in the midst of a car fleet? What unites these people on a path in the middle of a forest and why are they looking at us so distrustfully? What is this woman doing, on the point of falling, in the middle of the night, on a road, with a motionless, dazzled child looking on?


By browsing through the diverse works of Mathieu Dufois, the viewer is finally able to take stock of that brings them together: a problem of observation. The care for detail in his drawings, the choice of knowingly elaborate views, the implication of figures that watch, or even observe, and finally, this way of placing ourselves as a voyeur in the darkness: while the memory of images needs Dufois’ art, it is above all their potential to question our outlook that interests him."


Philippe Piguet

This text was published for a solo show of Mathieu Dufois curated by Philippe Piguet, Galerie de l’Étrave, in Thonon-les-Bains, in 2015.


Born in 1984 in Chartres. Lives and works at Tours.


- DNSEP (diplôme national d'expressions plastiques), ESBA Le Mans.

- DNAP (diplôme national d'arts plastiques), ESBA Le Mans.


- « Faux-semblants, Pôle international de la préhistoire », Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil.

- « L’Image et non le réel », École d’Arts du Choletais, Cholet.
- « Celles qui restent », La Galerie Particulière, Paris.

- « La Mémoire des images », Galerie de l'Étrave, Thonon-les-Bains.
- « Mathieu Dufois », Centre de Création Contemporaine, Tours.

- « Solo Exhibition », Griffin Gallery, London, England.

- « L'image après l'oubli », École supérieure des Beaux-arts du Mans, Le Mans.
- « Memento Mori », Galerie ALFA, Paris.

- « Une image n'est jamais seule #6 », La Vénerie, Centre culturel de Watermael-Boitsfort, Brussels, Belgium.
- « GraphitoScope », Musée des Beaux Arts de Mulhouse, Mulhouse.

- « Séries noires », Galerie ALFA, Paris.


- Drawing Now, booth La Galerie Particulière, Le Carreau du Temple, Paris.

- SOON Paris - Salon de l’œuvre originale numérotée, Bastille Design Center, Paris.
- Stationnement, La Nouvelle Galerie, Espace 9, Bergerac.
- Drawing Now, booth La Galerie Particulière, Le Carreau du Temple, Paris.
- Projection of three short films, Drawing Now programming, Silencio, Paris.

- Drawing Now, La Galerie Particulière, Paris.

- « Ver/stige », Silicone, Espace d'art contemporain, Bordeaux.
- La Triennale de Vendôme, Manège Rochambeau, Vendôme.
- Short Film Corner, Marché du film au festival de Cannes.
- Echosystèmes, Prix Sciences Po pour l'art contemporain, Paris.
- Vidéoformes, Official selection of the film « Par les ondes », Clermont-Ferrand.

- « Images secondes », École et Espace d'art contemporain Camille Lambert, Juvisy-sur-Orge.
- « As-tu un DVD du film ? », projection of short animation films proposed by Richard Nègre, at Agnès Varda Cinema, Juvisy-sur-Orge.
- Arte Video Night#6, projection of the film « La Conservation de l'éclat » at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, followed by a broadcast on the channel ARTE.

- Winners of the « Pasolini Roma » competition, Cinémathèque française, Paris.
- Arte Video Night, projection of the film « Memento Mori » at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, followed by a broadcast on the channel ARTE.
- « This is the end#2 », Hôtel Marron de Meillonnas, Bourg-en-Bresse.
- Drawing Now, Salon du Dessin Contemporain, Carrousel du Louvre, Paris.
- Art Paris/Art Fair, Modern and Contemporary Art Fair, Grand Palais, Paris.

- « Screen/Play », showroom of the city of Guyancourt.
- Art Paris/Art Fair, Modern and Contemporary Art Fair, Grand Palais, Paris.
- The Armory Show, Modern and Contemporary Art Fair, New York, USA.
- Armory Film: Short Stories, selection of the film « Memento Mori », New York, USA.
- Two Days Video, Centre d'Art de l'Yonne, Auxerre.
- 27e Marché du Film Court de Clermont-Ferrand, projection of the film « Memento Mori ».

- « Bulle it », Espace musique et cinéma, Médiathèque Simone de Beauvoir, Athis-Mons.
- Arte Video Night, projection of the film « Memento Mori » at the Gaîté Lyrique, followed by a broadcast on the channel ARTE.                                                  
- « Urban Jungle », Galerie Mineur, Blanzy.
- Drawing Now, Salon du Dessin Contemporain, Carrousel du Louvre, Paris.

- « Dialogue », CRAC Languedoc-Roussillon, Sète.
- « Blitz », Galerie ALFA, Paris.
- Salon du Dessin Contemporain, Carrousel du Louvre, Paris.
- The Armory Show, Modern and Contemporary Art Fair, New York, USA.

- « Dess(e)ins d'artistes », Centre d'Art Contemporain de Lacoux.
- SLICK, Contemporary Art Fair, Nominated for the Slick Arte Award, Centquatre, Paris.
- « Animator », RTT (Laeken), Brussels, Belgium.
- « Dessins d'aujourd'hui », Musée Rignault, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.
- « Sans Titre », Ottilia Pribilla Gallery, Anvers, Belgium.

- Mulhouse 008, Contemporary Art Fair, Laureate Award of the young creation, Mulhouse.

- Projection Videoact, conference with projection of French young artists videos, Faculty of Fine Arts, Vadodara, India.
- « In the Mix », 2007 graduates exhibition, École Supérieure des Beaux-arts du Mans, Le Mans.



- Interview with Aude Lavigne, radio program Les Carnets de la création, France Culture.



- Member of the selection committee of SOON Paris 2017 prize, Bastille Design Center, Paris.

- Conversation "Return on experience", with Philippe Piguet and Sébastien Desplat, SOON Paris, Bastille Design Center, Paris.

- Conference "Prehistory, medieval or contemporary : preserve or transmit patrimonies?", Centre culturel de Sarlat.

- Member of the technical support committee for creation, Région Centre.



- Educational project, partnership between the cultural service of the city of Montrouge and the educational action service of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris.

- Interview with Aude Lavigne, radio program Les Carnets de la création, France Culture.


- Public interview with the journalist and art critic Philippe Piguet at the Abbaye, Espace d'art, Annecy-le-Vieux.
- Conference cycle organized by La Fondation Claudine et Jean-Marc Salomon, Annecy.
- Photographer Site supervision of the future Centre de Création Contemporaine Olivier Debré, Tours.

- Participation in « Pense-bête / Collection 1 » by Sandra Aubry and Sébastien Bourg, Galerie de Roussan, Paris.

- Conference/Debate « Le Cinéma américain est-il soluble dans l'art contemporain ? » (Is American cinema dissolvable in contemporary art?), Université de Versailles/Saint Quentin en Yvelines, Guyancourt.
- Intervention at the Symposium « Espaces dessinés/espaces du dessin » (Drawn spaces/drawing spaces), LaM, Musée d'art moderne/contemporain/brut de Lille Métropole.

- Conference « professional life » at the École des Beaux-arts of Le Mans.
- Intervention at the École des Beaux-arts of Dunkerque (workshop « Fragments animés » (Animated fragments), Dunkerque.

- Member of « Collectif R », Association d'artistes en Région Pays de la Loire, Nantes.

- Represented by the Galerie ALFA, Paris. End of activity in 2013.

- Visitor assistant for the exhibition « Architecture/Humanité, vol.2 », Centre culturel de la Laverie, La Ferté-Bernard.
- Designer-portrait at the Cours d'Assises of the Cité judiciaire du Mans for the newspaper Ouest-France.

- Study trip to Turin, Italia.
- Trainee for the company ARTINBOX, installation of the exhibition « Il diavolo del focolare » at the Triennale de Milan, Italia.


- Three-months artistic residency, plan of « Résidences de l’Art en Dordogne », Pôle international de la Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil.
- Lauréat FID Prize, 8th International Drawing contest, Paris.


- Winner of the first prize SOON PARIS & Editions R.L.D, Design Bastille Center, Paris.
- Nominated for the Prix Sciences Po pour l'art contemporain, Paris.

- Winner of the second prize of the Concours Cinémathèque française « Pasolini Roma », Paris.
(Jury : Costa Gavras, Agnès b., Alain Bergala, Laurent Abadjian)
- Individual support for creation awarded by the Région Centre.

- Individual support for creation awarded by the DRAC Centre.

- Nominated for the Slick Arte Prize, Centquatre, Paris.

- Laureate « Prix de la jeune création ». Foire de Mulhouse.
(Jury : François Barré, Philippe Piguet, Anne Malherbe, Wilfrid Almendra)



- Anna Maisonneuve, « Fantômes pariétaux », Junkpage, December 2017.

- Marie-Sarah Bouleau, « A Body of Art », Le Figaro, June 14, 2017.

- Emmanuelle Lequeux, « Au salon Drawing Now, le dessin a montré sa meilleure mine », Le Monde, March 23, 2017.



- Interview with Philippe Piguet, « Entre-deux », Art Absolument, n°72, July-August 2016.

- Marie Chênel, « 61e Salon de Montrouge : une édition de choix », Le Quotidien de l'art, n°1060, May 09, 2016.

- Vincent Delaury, « Mathieu Dufois - en galerie », L’OEil, n°690, May 2016.


- « La Mémoire des images », Revue Semaine, n°40.15.
- « Mathieu Dufois, la mémoire des images », Le Dauphiné Libéré, October 15, 2015.
- Le Quotidien de l'Art, n°915.
- « Un entretien bercé par le cinéma » (An interview cradled by the cinema), AMA Newsletter, June 2015.
- La Triennale de Vendôme, Art Absolument, July-August 2015.
- « La Région Centre mise sur l'art contemporain » (The Région Centre relies on contemporary art), Policultures, June 2015.
- Catalog of the Triennale de Vendôme, Éditions HYX, 192 p.
- La Triennale de Vendôme, Le Curieux des arts.
- L'il, n°681.
- Special issue Triennale de Vendôme, Revue Laura.
- Echosystèmes, catalog of the 6th edition of the Prix Sciences Po pour l'Art contemporain.
- Images secondes, exhibition catalog, éd. Espace d'art contemporain Camille Lambert, Juvisy-sur-Orge.  

- Revue Laura, n°17.
- Espaces dessinés/Espaces du dessin, Éditions Septentrion.

- Concours Cinémathèque, Télérama, n°3336.

- Collective catalog Drawing Now.

- Catalog Memento Mori, Galerie ALFA, 40 p.
- Exporama, Artpress, n°374.
- Opuscule Dialogue, CRAC de Sète, 40 p.
- Les Inrockuptibles, n°786-787.

- « Dialogue au CRAC », L'Art vues, n°113.
- « Dessins à deux mains », La Gazette de Sète, n°244.
- « Les fantômes de l'image », Parcours des arts, n°24.
- « Arrêts sur mirages », Magazine Novo, n°9.
- Collective catalog Mulhouse 010.
- Exhibition catalog published with the help of the city of Mulhouse, text of Marie Maertens.
- Collective catalog Salon du dessin contemporain.  
- Semaine du dessin, Arts Magazine, n°44.

- Collective catalog Mulhouse 008.

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Mathieu Dufois

Mathieu Dufois


Arts - Libre Belgique