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Pyrrhic Victory

Ian Charles Lepine seeks to present beings trapped in a crossroads of contradiction: his interest is to display creatures whose very existence negates their very existence. These are beings at war with themselves, a war where all victories cannot but prove pyrrhic.


His sculptures are frequently complemented by a poem in either English, French, or Italian, that seeks to give a voice to its inert matter.

Author: Ian Charles Lepine

Year: 2022

Title: Pyrrhic Victory

Technique: Ceramic clay sculpture, painted with oxides and enamel.


A 'Pyrrhic victory' is a triumph that comes at an existential cost. The expression comes from the military campaign that king Pyrrhus of Epirus undertook against the Romans in 279 BC.

     Plutarch refers his words of celebration ‘another such victory would utterly ruin me’.

This piece seeks to demonstrate a victory through defeat, and defeat through victory. The Nike (Greek goddess of triumph) is shown dismembered, broken, and lying on the floor. She only has one wing left and raises her eyes towards the heavens; she is desolate, yet laurel crowns her devastated face.

Pyrrhic Victory

Ian Charles Lepine

Perhaps it is a triumph so to part

To walk away from this and on to keep;

Towards the future I will seek to leap

Although in tatters I now find my heart.

This war against myself has left no victor;

To escape I had to fall upon my sword

And tear myself apart and break my word,

But did I win or am I a defector?

I had to leave your side or lose myself

For I had fallen black into the deep.

The climb towards the heavens was so steep

I often thought I’d slip and lose my life.

Like Pyrrhus I pronounce with my last breath

‘Another win like this will be my death.’


–8 June MMXXII

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