Canada : Edward Pien


In my drawing and drawing installations, I combine Asian and Western histories and mythologies, bringing them to bear on our present-day realities. In her introduction to Imaginings, a catalogue of my recent exhibition at the Charles H. Scott gallery in Vancouver, Cate Rimmer describes my drawings as explorations into "transcultural paradigms of fear." My interest in the potency of fear comes from my Taiwanese childhood in which a fear of ghosts was used to shape my value systems.

Installation is crucial to ways in which I explore the concept of fears and vulnerabilities. At first glance, the work seems minimal, offering a surface that appears nearly imageless. The work unfolds as the viewer approaches and discovers a highly worked surface. The viewer is not able to stand back and passively gaze at the drawings from a safe distance. Instead the viewer must partake in a journey, initially engaging the work by bending or stretching to look into openings that lead to more layers and drawings. But beyond where the body can go, the eye can still negotiate the interior passages, allowing the exploration to continue. The eye confronts images of human/animal hybrids, cannibalism, many suggesting self-inflicted or other externally imposed penetrations into flesh, inciting the kinds of fears we harbour of the possible consequences of transgressing authority.

I feel that my work is both seductive and unsettling: the paper offers a softness and warmth, while ambiguities of surface and depth are fraught with unpredictability. It is through these transgressions of boundaries of subject matter and medium that my work confronts themes of fears and vulnerabilities.


Edward Pien
(Statement published by The Drawing Center, New York, June 2000)


"[. . .] two different beings, one land-based, the other, water-based. They are fearful of each other so they battle. In the ensuing conflict, a hybrid being is born [. . .]"


Edward Pien



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