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Sopheap Pich

Cambodian, born 1971

Luminous Falls No. I, 2013

Beeswax, damar resin, charcoal, bronze powder, copper powder, plastics, and wire on bamboo, rattan, and burlap
79 x 79 inches (200.7 x 200.7 cm)
Bequest of John Mortimer Schiff, by exchange, 2013

Sopheap Pich was born in Battambang, Cambodia, during a period of civil war. The Khmer Rouge eventually gained control (1975–79) but were toppled by their former ally, Vietnam, at which point Pich’s family fled to neighboring Thailand. The family remained in refugee camps until 1983 when they immigrated to the United States. Pich’s mature works, such as Cycle, 2011, and Luminous Falls No. I, 2013, feature oblique references to his early experiences and to the common materials of daily life in South East Asia, such as rattan, bamboo, burlap culled from rice bags, beeswax, and earth pigments.

Although he trained as a painter, Pich turned his attention to sculpture upon his return to Cambodia in 2002. Since 2005 he has focused exclusively on sculpture and has become one of the most celebrated artists of South East Asian origin in the international arena. Luminous Falls No. I—a wall relief that is part sculpture, part painting—is a rigid grid of bamboo and rattan, a lattice that serves as structural support for a ground of recycled burlap softened by layers of beeswax, resin, and charcoal with touches of muted color. With its formal juxtaposition of resilience and fragility and its reference to the body and the cyclical nature of life, Cycle infuses the post-minimalist grid with an uncharacteristic warmth and humanity that is a hallmark of Pich’s work.