Drawing on both Western and Eastern sources, Ed Pien creates imaginative, engaging artworks using drawing, paper cuts, installation and videos which take the viewer on an aesthetic journey exploring topics such as gender, race and sexuality.
Pien has exhibited extensively around the world including, but not limited to, such notable locations as the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum (UK), the Nacional de las Artes (Mexico) and at the Sydney and Moscow Biennales. He has had multiple touring exhibitions, including Memento which travelled from the UK to China (2009-2011) and Haven of Delight which travelled across Canada (2008-2011).
His work has been collected globally by the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Musee des beaux-arts de Montreal, the Centrum Beeldende Kunst (the Netherlands), the
Museo de Arte y Diseno Contemporaneo (Costa Rica) and the Ordos Art Museum (Mongolia, China) to name just a few. Pien’s work has also appeared in numerous publications, most recently in Traces, Fantasy Worlds & Tales of Truth (2013 Stanbridge, Nicole; Frater, Sally, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Ed Pien is represented by Birch Contemporary Gallery in Toronto, Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain in Montreal and Galerie Maurits van de Laar in The Hague. He has taught at Emily Carr University, Nova Scotia Centre for Art and Design, Ontario Centre for Art and Design and is currently at the University of Toronto.
Revel, Ed Pien, hand-cut mylar, video projection and sound element, (518.16cm diameter x 259.08cm high), 2011
Ed Pien Artist Statement
Through my work, I reflect upon the convergence of history, beliefs and mythology from diverse cultures. I am interested in the ways different belief systems influence how people negotiate and act in the world. Using drawing and installation, I explore curiosity, wonder and enchantment with a focus on the strange and grotesque thereby facilitating engaged perceptual experiences and opening up spaces for meaningful exchange. Through this work, I aim to challenge preconceptions and celebrate diversity.
Research allows me to work from a solid conceptual base. Combining intuition and imagination, I strive to make complex and multi-layered works: In Une Nuit de lunes, I applied optical arts’ illusions (magic lanterns, shadow theatre) to explore the grotesque and notions of Otherness; in Source, realized for the Sydney Biennale, I pursued the symbolic and mythological richness of water, conflating Taiwanese narratives with those recounted by First Nations’ elders. Water’s political ramifications also potently informed the work: specifically the lack of accessible clean water experienced by many First Nations’ communities.
The recent work, Revel comprises an immersive installation with clear sheets of hand cut mylar suspended from floor-to-ceiling to create the main architectural structure. The spiral configuration forms both a passage and a chamber. Its exterior shell remains shiny and reflective while the entire inside surface has been carefully hand sanded, subtly altering the see-through material with a worked up, drawing-like quality. A handful of mylar constructions of houses sit precariously within this dense netting. A video projection of the shadow of a young woman, making and arranging the houses, is projected through the installation. To further complicate the negotiation within Revel, the video image intermingles with the real shadows cast by the actual installation.As the viewer walks through the installation the mylar sways. As a consequence, the projection of the video on the reflective surface emanates bands of flickering light onto a paper curtain that flanks the inner spiral. The video projection also casts the viewer’s shadow into the installation.
Part of my strong motivation to create Revel derives from workshops I conducted with immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. These intense engagements inspired my research, contemplation and making. Revel’s ghost-like aura traverses effortlessly among real, memory and dream-like imaginary spaces. It has a physical presence that is almost not quite there, further adding to the psychological and emotional impact of a haunting and of how the past always manages to impinge on and speak through the present and future.
 First Nations are one of three aboriginal groups native to Canada. The First Nations elders are the most respected members and leaders of their communities.
Night Gathering, ink on hand cut Shoji paper, (490.22 x 246.38cm), 2005
Collection of Battat Contemporary
Ad Infinitum, ink on section paper, (391.16 x 198.12cm), 1999-2010
Collection of National Art Gallery of Canada
Soothsayer, ink on section black paper, (124.46 x 76.2cm), 2012