Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York
Sopheap Pich is widely considered to be Cambodia’s most internationally prominent contemporary artist. He is currently featured in the Venice Biennale, in the main exhibition, Viva Arte Viva, where a new body of his works on paper, along with a floor-standing sculpture, are exhibited in an alcove in the Arsenale.
Born in Battambang, Cambodia, in 1971, Pich moved with his family to the United States in 1984. After receiving his MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999, he returned to Cambodia in 2002, where he began working with local materials – bamboo, rattan, burlap, beeswax and earth pigments gathered from around the country – to make sculptures inspired by bodily organs, vegetal forms, and abstract geometric structures. Pich’s childhood experiences during the genocidal conditions of late 1970s Cambodia had a lasting impact on his work, informing its themes of time, memory, and the body. His sculptures stand out for their subtlety and power, combining refinement of form with a visceral, emotive force. In 2013, Pich presented a highly acclaimed solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, entitled Cambodian Rattan: The Sculptures of Sopheap Pich.
For our booth, we feature new works on paper from the same body of work that he is currently exhibiting in the Venice Biennale. These “drawings” were created by dipping sticks of bamboo in a mixture of earth pigments and gum Arabic, then repeatedly pressing them on watercolor paper. The passage of time is recorded as the ink slowly fades from the sticks after repeated pressings. A subtle tension exists between the precise linearity of the impressions of the sticks and the irregularities caused by the natural texture of the bamboo, variations in the surface of the work table, and changes in pressure of the artist’s hand.
Our booth also features new works from Pich’s Wall Reliefs series, which he debuted in a room-sized installation at Documenta (13) in 2012. Reflecting the artist’s increasing interest in abstraction and conceptualization, these works are made of bamboo and rattan grids covered with strips of burlap salvaged from used rice bags that had been patched by previous owners with old fabrics and colorful bits of plastic twine, onto which Pich applied layers of encaustic.