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La perte du bonheur


From Saturday 29 October to Sunday 12 February 2023

The artistic practice of Patrik Pion combines sculptures, photographs, drawings, sounds, and videos in a coherent ensemble in which each medium  dialogues, reproduces, responds, and aligns in a profound and muted mise-en-abyme. Having worked as a duo with artist Paule Combey until 2013 under the name of CombeyPion, he now pursues his research by developing new experiments.

Fuelled at once by psychoanalysis, philosophy, electroacoustic music, and the German (expressionist) and Russian (constructivist) avant-gardes, the works of Patrik Pion appear as doubles, mnemonic images that do not aim to represent the real at all. While his research focuses on the way in which the mind constructs itself based on this reality, it is more the representation of this construction that is at play in his creations. Among them are found “white objects”, objects from everyday life (lemon squeezers, shoes, toothbrushes, flashlights, guns, syringes, etc.), object-sculptures created from blank stapled newspapers. While their disproportionate scale lends them a burlesque appearance reminiscent of the sculptures of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen, the austerity of their whiteness actually distances them from an attempt at fascination with the manufactured object, as developed by pop art and its corollaries. Without seeking to represent or reproduce, these objects are imperfect doubles, made from memory. Because they emerge as memories, from photographs of the mind, from ghostly traces, they do not figure the object as such, but invite introspection, a dive into the individual or collective psyche, which entirely constitutes the subconscious of our world.

The videos, photographs, and drawings of Patrik Pion created based on these objects multiply their presence through a spectral imagery akin to expressionist cinema. As photographs, they are enlarged to a monumental scale. As drawings, they clash on paper in very large formats and appear to float, weightlessly. The artist’s recent video works present a series of short sequences illustrating snippets of daily life (a fragment of a ride on the metro, traffic on the Parisian ring-road, etc.) or videos of phrases scanning pathological states, essentially emerging from mass movements. Excerpted mostly from books by Sigmund Freud, Cynthia Fleury, Hermann Broch, or Axel Honneth, and decontextualised, they turn on helicoidal axes against an empty background. The artist accords great importance to auditive atmospheres, recordings that are also reworked elements from daily life, elongated, distorted, and producing – in unison with all of the artworks – something like an echo perceived in the deepest part of our consciousness.

Group clinical psychology constitutes one of the axes of his artistic praxis, in which the analysis and mode of representation of emotions predominate. It is an examination of the construction of the subject, its role in the collective and, among other things, about the subject/object relationship in our societies. His work is informed by his experience of workshops undertaken with patients at the Georges Sand psychiatric hospital in Bourges.[1] Attentive to institutional psychotherapy of the clinique de Borde,[2] and to the theories of anti-psychiatry,[3] Patrik Pion and Paule Combey took a more specific interest in manifestations of psychosis. This “Generativ Process” workshop programme[4]  aimed to engender evolving psychic processes of creation, through an exchange and shared experimentation; to foster desire; to research and generate new types of relationships based on creation, based on spatiotemporal artistic energy in the most extensive way possible, thus combining painting, sculpture, installation, performance, body art, etc., music and the world of sound, in order to bring in different perceptual approaches, so that something of the order of the visible is manifested, without however resembling an object, thus encouraging the presence and role of the subject... It’s a sensitive experiment with oneself and others, through art, within a mannered relationship.[5]

On the occasion of his exhibition La perte du bonheur (the loss of happiness) at the Centre d’art contemporain – la synagogue de Delme, the artist used a quote from Sigmund Freud to question the future of the notion of happiness in the contemporary world. Now emerging as an order in a society relying on well-being, care, and positive psychology, the search for happiness – or an obsession with it – appears more as a reflection of “happycracy[6] (a failure to prevent the rise in depressive states and reliance on antidepressants (cf. the opiates crisis in the USA)) rather than as a sincere accompaniment to the emancipation of peoples. La perte du bonheur questions, through a series of sculptures, drawings, and videos, the future of this essential notion for the construction of the subject and its undeniable need to be reclaimed by liberated subjectivities.


The exhibition La perte du bonheur by Patrik Pion will be accompanied by a publication by Paraguay Press, edited in partnership with the gallery Valeria Cetraro, Paris.


The CAC – la synagogue de Delme et Patrik Pion would like to thank François Piron and Paraguay Press; the Gallery Valeria Cetraro, Paris; Ghyslain Philbert and Thibaud Schneider; the municipal employees of Delme.



[1] In which Patrik Pion and Paule Combey intervened as associated artists from 1981 to 2015.

[2] Among the founding principles of the practice, there is the struggle against asylum-based violence and segregation, the respect of the individual and the freedom of movement of the patients.

[3] Antipsychiatry is engaged in an experiment within the psychiatric context, but based on therapeutic communities. It is a matter of ensuring that the patients manage their community themselves, as well as the therapeutic measures that can be taken. The patients must therefore become responsible for their own care, the healthcare staff only have the role of listening and support, as referents.

[4] “Generativ Process” – a creative space proposed by Patrik Pion and Paule Combey at the Centre hospitalier Georges Sand, Bourges, 2010. Available  for consultation in the documentation area during the exhibition.

[5]  An affect is a state of mind like a sensation, an emotion, a sentiment, or a mood. Any state of this kind has a good or bad aspect and therefore influences or motivates us.

[6] See Edgar Cabanas and Eva Illouz, Happycracy. How the Science of Happiness Controls our Lives (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2019).

Patrik Pion (born in 1954) studied at the École des Beaux-arts de Bourges and the Film Studies department of the Université Paris VIII de Vincennes. His collaboration with Paule Combey (1950–2013) was initiated in 1992 through a practice of electroacoustic music. Alongside their artistic activity, they regularly intervened in psychiatric care facilities. Today, Patrik Pion lives and works in Paris. He is represented by the gallery Valeria Cetraro. 

His work, alone or with Paule Combey, has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Centre Régional d’art contemporain – Occitanie, Sète; the Confort Moderne, Poitiers; Galerie Charles Cartwright, Paris; as well as in collective exhibitions at Galerie Valeria Cetraro, Paris; Tonus, Paris; CNEAI, Pantin; In extenso, Clermont-Ferrand; Triennale de Vendôme; Galerie Charles Cartwright, Paris; Centre d’art contemporain de Chateauroux; Salon de la jeune sculpture, Paris; Maison de la culture, Nevers; and Maison de la Culture, Chalon-sur-Saône, among others. Patrik Pion will show this work again in a solo exhibition at the gallery Valeria Cetraro in the spring of 2023.