Big Beng and Ordeal
|Big Beng, 2017
Bamboo, wood, metal, oil-based paint, Indian ink
Big Beng and Ordeal were inspired by flora found in Cambodia and Singapore.
The Cambodian Beng tree (Afzelia xylocarpa) is one of the most endangered trees in the region, its wood highly sought-after in Cambodia, Southeast Asia, and China. Big Beng takes the shape of the seeds of the tree. Pich likens Beng wood to luxurious rosewood – a timber rapidly being harvested to extinction. Though a protected species, the Beng tree continues to be unlawfully logged and sold on the black market as part of Cambodia’s multi-billion-dollar timber trade.
The Ordeal tree (Erythrophleum suaveolens), native to tropical Africa, is used in Singapore for landscaping, favoured for its spreading canopy. The bark was used by African tribes for making arrow poison, but also as a medicine. Intrigued by these opposing uses, Pich also found beauty in its woody seed pods – which inspired the design of Ordeal. One particular Ordeal tree in Upper Seletar Reservoir is listed as a Heritage Tree of Singapore.
Together Big Beng and Ordeal hover between the past and present, Angkor and Singapore, and around geopolitics in Southeast Asia. Pich resists defining his work, but acknowledges in them traces of his own and his country’s past. He invites visitors to interpret these larger-than-life works according to their own personal perspectives.
Sopheap Pich’s works spring from his immense curiosity. They are inspired by the memory of the Khmer Rouge, his life as a boy in a refugee camp, and the intimacy of the natural environment. His monumental, finespun, porous objects show how culture and traditions are passed down. These concepts help to define him as an artist, and in turn are embodied in his artworks.
His sculptures are primarily crafted from traditional Cambodian materials, such as bamboo, rattan, burlap, natural beeswax, and charcoal, to reflect the history of his nation and his complex relationship with his identity. Using elaborate techniques to create grid-like systems, the artist pushes the boundaries of the craft to depict the subtleties of the subjects he presents.
Pich’s works are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Centre Georges Pomipidou, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Singapore Art Museum, and other notable institutions around the world. His works were also featured in dOCUMENTA (13) in 2012 and the Venice Biennale in 2017. In 2014, Art Asia Pacific called Pich “the Southeast Asian artist to watch at the moment”.
Wednesdays, 11 Apr, 9 May, 13 Jun, 11 Jul 2018
7.30pm to 8.30pm
$40 per person
Register at this these links:
Guided tour on 11 July
Explore Angkor through the eyes of early Western visitors to the famous Cambodian sites in this special after-hours tour with one of the exhibition curators. Hear behind-the-scene stories about setting up the Angkor exhibition, and get a closer look at the drawings, photographs, and sculptures that captivated the 19th-century French public when the ancient Angkor civilisation made its sensational emergence onto the international stage. Please join us to see these masterpieces from Paris, housed in Guimet Museum, and in Singapore for the very first time.
Principal Curator, ACM
Theresa has been a specialist in South Asian art for over twenty years, and was previously a director at Sotheby’s, New York. At ACM she has contributed to the catalogue for Enlightened Ways: The Many Streams of Buddhist Art in Thailand and was lead curator for Exploring the Cosmos: The Stupa as a Buddhist Symbol, Treasures from Asia’s Oldest Museum: Buddhist Art from the Indian Museum, Kolkata, and the current Angkor exhibition. Her interest lies in the transmission of art and thought from Indian into other regions of Asia.
Stephen A. Murphy
Senior Curator, Southeast Asia, ACM
Stephen is Senior Curator for Southeast Asia at the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore. He holds a PhD from the Department of History of Art and Archaeology, SOAS, University of London (2010). He specialises in the art and archaeology of early Buddhism and Hinduism in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Malaysia. He has a particular interest in the period spanning the 7th to 9th centuries AD and looks at trade and connections between Southeast Asian cultures and the wider world of Tang China, India, and beyond.
He recently co-curated the special exhibition Angkor: Exploring Cambodia's Sacred City, Masterpieces of the Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet. In 2016–17 he curated a special exhibition from the National Museum of Myanmar titled, Cities and Kings: Ancient Treasures from Myanmar. He is also co-editor, with Alan Chong, of, The Tang Shipwreck: Art and exchange in the 9th century (2017). He is co-editor of Before Siam: Essays in Art and Archaeology (River Books & The Siam Society, 2014), and has contributed papers to leading academic journals such as Asian Perspectives, The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society and The Journal of Southeast Asian Studies.
A minimum of 10 people is needed to proceed. Registration closes a day before the tour and tickets are non-refundable if participant is unable to attend. If the event is cancelled, full ticket-price refund will be given.
Carved in Stone
Registration is required. Please click here to register.
Parent-and-Child | Friday - 8 June, 2 to 4pm
$20 per parent-and-child unit
Adults Only | Saturday - 9 June, 2 to 4pm
$27.50 per adult
Create your own masterpiece inspired by carvings on the stone walls of Angkor temples in this rubber stamp carving workshop. Take a closer look at the beautiful details of Khmer art and architecture as you are guided by experienced facilitators in this beginner-friendly workshop. Then you can start decorating your paper stationery with one-of-a-kind stamps you carved by yourself!
Registration is required. Please click here to register.
Children Only | Friday - 22 June, 2 to 5pm
$39 per child
Adults Only | Saturday - 23 June, 2 to 5pm
$39 per adult
Take a journey into yourself as you learn to create and decorate your own travel journal! Step into the shoes of explorers in the past who recorded what they saw and thought while making discoveries abroad. Begin your adventure by making a journal of your very own to record your adventures.