Tyler Rollins Fine Art is delighted to welcome back Sopheap Pich for his third solo exhibition with the gallery, on view from April 18 to June 14, 2013. Entitled Reliefs, the exhibition features new works from Pich’s Wall Reliefs series, which debuted at last year’s Documenta (13) in Kassel, Germany. The show coincides with two other exhibitions of the artist’s work in New York City: Cambodian Rattan: The Sculptures of Sopheap Pich, a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through July 7, 2013); and Compound, a large-scale, site-adaptive installation at the Brookfield Place Winter Garden (through April 18, 2013).
While using the same locally sourced materials seen in his earlier, more free-flowing works, Pich’s grid-based Wall Reliefs reflect the artist’s increasing interest in abstraction and conceptualization, as we now see Pich exploring the expressive possibilities of the grid, which has always served as the basic structural unit for his sculptural work. Pich’s Wall Reliefs consist of rattan grids partially covered with strips of burlap taken from used rice bags that had been previously repaired with colorful bits of string and twine, showing the care with which even these humble materials are treated. The works in the series come in two main colors – red and black – that Pich derives from natural materials: the red or orchre pigment is made from powdered clay he collects from different parts of Cambodia; while the black is derived from charcoal used in cooking fires in the artist’s studio. Referring to the Wall Reliefs series, Pich says, “these grid works, reduced to their bare materials and shapes, represent for me a kind of distillation of emotion, of remembrance, of reflections on what has influenced me, or the places I have been.” Pich is widely considered to be Cambodia’s most internationally prominent contemporary artist. Working primarily with thin strips of rattan and bamboo, he creates sculptural forms that address issues of time, memory, and the body, often relating to Cambodia’s history, particularly with regard to his recollections of life during the Khmer Rouge period (1975-79), and its culture, both its ancient traditions and contemporary struggles. Pich’s work stands out for its subtlety and power, combining refinement of form with a visceral, emotive force. After receiving his BFA and MFA in the United States, Pich returned to Cambodia in 2002, where he began working with local materials – bamboo, rattan, burlap, beeswax and earth pigments – to make sculptural forms that reference social and political conditions in Cambodia. His childhood experiences during the genocidal conditions of late 1970s Cambodia had a lasting impact on his work, informing its themes of survival, family, and basic human togetherness. Pich’s work has been featured in numerous international museum exhibitions and biennials in Asia, Europe, Australia, and the United States, including the Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale (2009), Asia-Pacific Triennial (2009), Asian Art Biennial (2011), Singapore Biennale (2011), and Documenta (2012). His current solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art features ten sculptures from recent years, ranging from large-scale, organic forms to the more recent Wall Reliefs. The exhibition includes loans from private collections as well as from the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Arts and Design. Pich’s major sculptural installation, Compound, currently on view in New York City as part of the Season of Cambodia festival, was originally conceived for the 2011 Singapore Biennale, where it was displayed in the rotunda of Singapore’s National Museum, and it was subsequently featured in Pich’s solo exhibition at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle (2011-2012), and in the group show, Invisible Cities, at MASS MoCA (2012-2013). He is currently preparing for a solo exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (opening January 2014).