Ed Pien is a Canadian artist based in Toronto. He has been drawing for nearly 30 years. Born in Taipei, Taiwan, he immigrated to Canada with his family at the age of eleven. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from York University in Toronto and Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ontario. Ed Pien has exhibited nationally and internationally including the Drawing Centre, New York; La Biennale de Montreal 2000 and 2002; W139, Amsterdam; Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Middlesbrough Art Gallery, the UK; Centro Nacional e las Artes, Mexico City; The Contemporary Art Museum in Monterrey, Mexico; the Goethe Institute, Berlin; Bluecoat, Liverpool; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; as well as the National Art Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. As an art instructor, Ed Pien has taught at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and the Ontario College of Art and Design. He currently teaches part-time at the University of Toronto. Pien is represented by Birch Libralato in Toronto, Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain in Montreal and Galerie Maurits van de Laar in The Hague.
Ed Pien, Invisible, 2008. 3M reflective material and shoji paper, 274 x 365 cm. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Photo © NGC
During a 2004 trip to China, Ed Pien encountered the ancient art of papercutting at a temple where he saw a work he describes as primordial: a symmetrical cut-out of a tree with a head at its centre and birds in its branches. He began to research papercuts, which in China date back to the Northern and Southern Dynasties (AD 386-581). The tree has been a persistent motif in Pien's practice, his interest having developed as a child when he moved to London, Ontario - known as "Forest City." This particular tree form references Jacques Callot's "La pendaison" (The Hanging), an illustration from the series of etchings "Les Misères et les Malheurs de la Guerre" (1633). In the upper right of "Invisible", three figures seem to be either defiantly hovering in mid air or hanged. The bodies intertwine with the branches, suggesting an enchanted yet unsettling realm.