Pien uses both drawing and paper cutting techniques to present fantastic worlds inhabited by strange figures.
His paper cut works are inspired by the Chinese art of paper cutting, which the artist discovered during a trip to China in 2004. Pien's web-like paper landscapes are home to birds, bats and half-human, half-animal creatures. The silhouettes of these figures are perched in the branches of trees and seem to dissolve into the space of these magical forests. They evoke that twilight moment when certainties of reality slip away, leaving our mind free to wander.
Pien's drawings also make reference to Asian and Western history and myths, from the cruelty inflicted on Christian martyrs to the many denizens that inhabit Eastern legends and myths. His interest in the monstrous and the grotesque comes from his childhood in Taiwan, a society whose value system is partly predicated on the fear of ghosts. When he is painting or drawing, Pien works intuitively, allowing an accumulation of lines or blots of ink to help reveal images to him. He also lays a sheet of paper over a newly rendered drawing so that the resulting marks serve as a screen for interpreting figures, which he then reproduces on new supports. Conceptually, these processes can be likened to the "frottage" (rubbing) technique used by some European surrealists, or the automatic writing as practiced by several members of the Quebec Automatiste movement.
Ed Pien, The Queen, 2011. Image courtesy of the artist.