Concrete Contemporary Art
October 20 — 25, 2018
Auction begins to close at 2:00 pm ET
Private Collection, Tornoto
Ed Pien’s career frequently evokes questions of the body, archetypes, and the convergences of history and beliefs. Tree of Life explores this mutability, fusing together bodies and cultures into a cohesive gestalt. A central trunk fans out in fractal branches, becoming a labyrinth of limbs and figures. Emerging out of the knot are pagodas, birds, other trees; human figures with avian heads hover on the periphery, about to leap off into the air. The sculpture almost denies its material truth: it is thinly made, flattened, delicately cut out of a sheet of aluminum. It has no depth, and no heaviness. Rather, it takes on the image of a shadow puppet, or the large scale paper cutouts that Pien has made previously. As a result, the trees, the figures and structures that comprise the sculpture don’t seem to have any tangible weight that would force us to consider them as real, tangible subjects - they are too flimsy, too delicate, too mercurial. The hybridised bodies are malleable and generative, freely able to shift from one form to another as they organise the sculpture: skin becomes feathers becomes wood becomes limbs. These dreamlike, protean drifts don’t signal a visual instability but a kind of magic - a willingness to play with the body within the treescape’s tangled network.