SOPHEAP PICH

“desire line”

left: “Miroiise” 2017 / wood, marble, rattan, bamboo, metal wire / h.260.0 × w.36.0 × d.6.5 cm right: “Moonstone” 2017 / wood, bamboo, steel wire / h.155.0 × w.38.0 × d.16.0 cm ©Sopheap Pich Studio

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Artist Talk by Sopheap Pich

Dates: November 4 (Sat.) 16:00 – 18:00
Venue: 8/ COURT (facing 8/ART GALLERY / Tomio Koyama Gallery)
Admission Free, reservation required
*send an e-mail to following address
event@tomiokoyamagallery.com
Subject: Talk Show, November 4
please include your name, e-mail address and a number of participants in your message.
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Tomio Koyama Gallery (Roppongi) and 8/ ART GALLERY/ Tomio Koyama Gallery will concurrently hold solo exhibitions of internationally prominent Cambodian artist Sopheap Pich’s desire line, his first in Japan.

【About Work and Artist】

Sopheap Pich creates sculptures with organic and geometric structures, inspired by bodily organs, vegetal forms or cityscapes. Made with local materials such as bamboo, rattan, wire, and beeswax, his work embraces a sense of lightness, yet fills up the space energetically with its volume and functional structure.

Pich’s work has been featured in numerous international museum exhibitions and biennials such as his solo exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2013 and Documenta 13. This year he is featured in the Venice Biennale, Viva Arte Viva (until November 26), and “Sunshower: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now” at Mori Art Museum (until October 23). His work is included in such major collections as Metropolitan Museum of Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Centre Georges Pompidou, M+ (Hong Kong), Singapore Art Museum, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

【Influence of Culture and Region in Childhood】

On his work Pich states that “all the works have common themes: poverty, relationships between inside and out, fragility and monumentality, a sense of lightness, and metaphors of mutual dependence.”
(Interview with Sopheap Pich, Flash Art, January-February 2010).

The influence of culture and regional identity is deeply embedded in his childhood memories. Pich was born in Cambodia in 1971, and grew up under the harsh and tragic Khmer Rouge regime. In 1979 his family stayed in refugee camps along the border of Thailand to escape from political instability. During that time Pich participated in an art school run by NGOs and became interested in painting. His family was able to migrate to the United States in 1984. In 1990 he entered the University of Massachusetts to study medicine, later transferring to the Department of Art, graduating in 1995. Subsequently he received an MFA in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999.

After struggling with how to express his ideas as a painter, he returned to Cambodia in 2002. In 2004 he switched from painting to sculpture as he increasingly found the representational limitations of painting insufficient. In contrast, sculpture allowed him to create through a process of labor a three-dimensional object similar to the tools and toys he built as a child . He went on to create his first sculpture, “Silence” which was shaped like a pair of lungs. Pich states, “… painting was so much of a struggle. This was the first time that I realized it was so nice to make something that wasn’t meant to be artwork, to just play with the materials” (Presentation by Sopheap Pich, Asia Art Archive in America, 2011)

Returning to the Cambodian countryside he was surrounded by nature in rural areas. Craft is an essential part of everyday living; people weave bamboo to make barns, covering them with mixture of straw and clay soil. Everything is handmade and beautifully crafted. Immersed in this environment and with a new awe and appreciation for both nature and craft, Pich started using local and natural sources based on the forms and structure from medicine and mathematics he had studied at college. Pich’s unique mode of expressions reflects his experiences of living in different places. It also refines the relationship between craft and material metaphysically, philosophically, and ontologically.

【Joy of Creating, Soetsu Yanagi, Influence of Mingei, and International Recognition】

Pich states the following about his work:
“I’m 46 years old but I still feel like I’m a little kid because for me, art is about play. It’s about trying things out. (Sopheap Pich’s “‘Rang Phnom Flower’ Flourishes at the Crow Collection of Asian Art”, NBC 5 Dallas Fort-Worth, 2017)

“Slicing rattan and bamboo strands with blades and tying wires when making sculptures is very meditative”
(Naima Morelli, The Importance of Craft: Sopheap Pich at Venice Biennale 2017, Cobo Social, 2017)

“Our work should inspire people to slow down, value time and labor, and give a sense of freedom and possibility.”
(Interview with Sopheap Pich, Lotus Lens Fall 2017)

Given the historical and political context of his work he is often asked about the social and political dimensions of his work, but while there is an influence related to childhood memories he consciously seeks to focus on the material and phenomenological aspects of the work. He is also influenced by the spirit of craft – The Mingei Movement (folk art movement) led by Soetsu Yanagi, who believed that daily objects and materials contained a kind of spirit, and valued the world without the separate boundaries of art, philosophy, and religion.

Being a Cambodian is simply one singular piece of information about him, not the whole picture and not a conclusion.
“(His work and materials) are somehow in between the world itself and the intentionality of a person”
(Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev “LIVE LIKE A FROG AND DIE LIKE A SNAKE”: CONVERSATIONS WITH SOPHEAP PICH, Exhibition Catalogue, Tyler Rollins Fine Art, 2013).
That is perhaps, one reason why his work receives recognition and attracts viewers.

【On the exhibition desire line】

This exhibition title came about during his stay at the Rauschenberg Residency in Florida (2017) where he found a path that had naturally emerged through the process of people repeatedly walking through a forest. The exhibition will feature approximately 12 new works including “Miroiise”, and “Moonstone”, two works employing marble and rosewood roots which represent a more abstract yet intimate direction in his exploration of three-dimensional works. Also included in the show are new large-scale drawings using natural earth pigments which were created with a bamboo stick that the artist presses repeatedly on paper to create resonant and rhythmic lines in space. These works are progressions from the drawings shown at this year’s Venice Biennale.

This is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Japan.

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For press inquiries, please contact:
press@tomiokoyamagallery.com (Makiko Okado)
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Artist Profile

Sopheap Pich

Pich was born in Cambodia in 1971, and grew up under the harsh and tragic Khmer Rouge regime. In 1979 his family stayed in refugee camps along the border of Thailand to escape from political instability. During that time Pich participated in an art school run by NGOs and became interested in painting. His family was able to migrate to the United States in 1984. In 1990 he entered the University of Massachusetts to study medicine, later transferring to the Department of Art, graduating in 1995. Subsequently he received an MFA in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999.

Pich’s work has been featured in numerous international museum exhibitions and biennials such as his solo exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2013 and Documenta 13. This year he is featured in the Venice Biennale, Viva Arte Viva (until November 26), and “Sunshower: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now” at Mori Art Museum (until October 23). His work is included in such major collections as Metropolitan Museum of Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Centre Georges Pompidou, M+ (Hong Kong), Singapore Art Museum, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

  • Rang Phnom No. 11 2016 / rattan, metal wire / App h.234.0 x w.370.0 x d.64.0 cm ©Sopheap Pich Studio
  • The Crater 2017 / bamboo, rattan, burlap, wire, plastics, synthetic resin / h.250.0 x w.400.0 x d.13.0 cm ©Sopheap Pich Studio
  • Mirage 1 2017 / earth pigment and gum Arabic on Arches watercolor paper / 161.0 x 131.0 cm ©Sopheap Pich Studio