The figures of time
“The figure is a pause in vision. That is to say: it is a last judgment, a ‘death sentence’—to quote Blanchot—where we decide on life and death; where we decide the life of death.”
If the figure marks a pause in the fleeing course of time, what can we say of the sculptures of Patrick Loréa, except that they overcome this “death sentence”? Reversing the codes of ancient sculpture, these works open, between the figure and their model, a loophole: they make time itself the implicit subject of that which they show us. Figures in ruins, vestiges, it is no longer the ideal that gives body, here, to material, it is rather the material itself that rebels against the form given to it by the hands of its creator. But what is a figure crafted from the outside by the passage of time? Or, to say it using the words of Ezra Pound: what is a “figure carved out of time”?
By Frédéric-Charles Baitinger
In the manner of Giacometti or Francis Bacon, Patrick Loréa is not trying, through his sculptures, to create a resemblance. Without lapsing into pure abstraction, these bodies and faces do not belong to a certain place or epoch: they are merely, so to speak, the anonymous supports of a becoming that gnaws at and dispels them. Figures of flesh, carrying on them stigmas of their past lives, no Idea is reflected on their moving forms, but rather something else more subtle and more difficult to name. Whether in his piece depicting a woman bent slightly, mouth partially open and eyes closed, or in another, more explicit piece, showing us, through a piece of glass, the half-destroyed face of a man, the same fragility seems to hover over these beings, as if thefirst expression that characterizes them struggles to not disappear under the assaults of a force that modern physicists call “the principle of entropy.” Everything vanishes, and the features of a face, that should have been preserved for eternity, are suddenly shown as prey to the vertigo of becoming nothing more than a temporary form; a form whose essence merges little by little with that of its injuries.
Yet, through which processes has Patrick Loréa been able to produce such effects? The story is worth telling for it summarizes, in itself, that which is essential in these works. Formerly a sculptor of classical persuasion, Loréa molded his figures in clay, then created identical forms in a harder material. Feeling weary, one day, of such a process, he rediscovered, in a dusty corner of his studio, two clay heads, long forgotten. Moved by the grace of these abandoned faces, he then realized that a period of his creative work had come to an end and that another had finally opened for him.
Like an archeological sculptor, excavating the secrets of his studio, it is no longer the figure in itself that now interests Loréa, but rather all the physical and chemical processes that make his sculptures the equivalent of suffering bodies. That is why his sculptures are reminiscent of those of Giuseppe Penone, who, according to Georges Didi-Huberman, allows us to tangibly feel the difference that exists between “a sculptor who makes objects in space—the objects of space, and a sculptor who transforms objects in subtle acts of the place—taking place.  ” This is to say: to no longer be contented in giving shape to one’s ideas, nor seek to render perennial a damaged figure, but to try, even against the implicit risks of this quest, to attain this accidental expressiveness without which every work of art, even the most perfect, remains an end point—a “death sentence.”
 Georges Didi-Huberman, Etre crâne, Lieu, contact, pensée, sculpture, Etre fleuve. Les éditions de Minuit.