Curated by Henry Heng Lu
Tracing Water presents an extensive assembly of work by Toronto-based artist Ed Pien. Ranging from drawing to lithography to prints and video, the works span over 20 years and explore and incorporate water in these artistic creations.
Two Worlds, for instance, comprises 12 drawings excerpted from a large series of narrative-based drawings. This suite of drawings imagines a future where humans battle watery beings to gain domination and control. The war wages on for centuries, and amidst destruction, suffering and death, hybridized, part water and part humans are born. The epic war finally comes to a halt as the two originating factions can no longer be distinguished.
Recent works by Pien included in the exhibition delve more deeply into exploring the sentience of water, that water has co-agency, liveliness, and creativity. According to Pien, water is a material that is highly process-based and plays a significant role in how a drawing can unfold. These explorations include photographs entitled Breath that capture ephemeral drawings made by the artist’s breath in minus 45 degrees.
Other works, such as Ocean Water Drawing, involve the participation of captured salty ocean water and how it makes and leaves its marks as it intervenes with white ink. The subsequent marks and images made are in direct response to the trace residuals marked up on the surface of the black-coloured papers as ocean water makes its inevitable escape.
Ed Pien is a Canadian artist based in Toronto. He has been making art for nearly 40 years. Born in Taipei, Taiwan, he immigrated to Canada with his family at an early age. Pien divides his time between Toronto and Havana.
Pien has shown extensively, both nationally and internationally, in venues that include the Drawing Center, NYC; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; The Canadian Culture Centre in Paris; The Goethe-Institut in Berlin; The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria; The Art Gallery of Ontario; The Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal; The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; Songzhuang Art Centre, Beijing; The National Gallery of Canada. He has participated in the 2000 and 2002 Montreal Biennales; the 18th Edition of the Sydney Biennale; “Oh Canada”, at MASS MoCA. Pien also presented work at the 5th Edition of the Moscow Biennale, and the Beijing International Art Biennale. He has also participated in the Curitiba Biennial, in Brazil and the Bienal Internacional de Asunción, in Paraguay. His project, in the form of photographs, videos and an installation, involving a small group of Cuban Elders exploring the notion of time, is currently being presented at the Art Gallery of Ontario until June 2023.
His work is collected widely and includes FRAC Lorraine, Metz, France; The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria; The National Gallery of Canada; The Art Gallery of Ontario; The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; The Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal; The Mendel Art Gallery; The Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, North Carolina; as well as other institutions and private collections.