International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Sopheap Pich: A Cambodian Artist and Khmer Rouge Regime Survivor

Sopheap Pich, one of Cambodia’s most prominent contemporary artists, just recently ended a show with Tyler Rollins Fine Art Museum in New York.  Born in the 1970’s, Pich spent his childhood during the Khmer Rouge period (1975-1979) and witnessed many of the atrocities committed by Pol Pot’s regime.  Today, Sopheap Pich creates complex sculptures from bamboo and rattan, which address some of the most prominent issues he and his country  faced when he was a child. In many of his works, one can see the impact his experience had on his art-making.

I think his works really capture the feeling in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge period, the aftermath, and the Cambodia tribunals.  The piece below is an excellent example of Pich’s work:

Sopheap Pich, Seven Parts Relief, 2012

This piece was actually really interesting for me due to its resemblance to the grid displays of the victims of Cambodia.  (There are no photographs used in the work, however.  It is made entirely of bamboo, rattan, burlap, wire, beeswax, damar resin, earth pigment, plastics, charcoal, and oil paint)

It’s difficult to see, but Pich’s sculptures are impressively intricate.   Pich creates these sculptures by combining his materials into a tightly woven grid pattern.

Sopheap Pich, Cycle, 2011

In class, we talked about the tribunals and the extensive participation from the entire community (I think it was said that over 1,000 people applied to be witnesses in Case 002).  Pich’s work illustrates the togetherness of Cambodia during and after this period. There’s also a visible tension within his work as well due to the bending of materials, which could possibly be read as an illustration of the tensions between the government and the people, or even between the victims and the perpetrators during the atrocities. 

I thought it was really amazing that Pich was able to capture the essence of Cambodia  during and after the Khmer Rouge Regime.

If you’re interested, below is a video of Pich creating a sculpture! It’s pretty nifty.

Cambodian Rattan: The Sculpture of Sopheap Pich


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