John Guy. Cambodian Rattan: Memory and Place in the Art of Sopheap Pich
The American-trained contemporary Cambodian artist Sopheap Pich lives and works in Phnom Penh (Fig. 1). Born in Battambang province in Cambodia’s northwest in 1971, Pich was nine years old when his family escaped a country traumatized by five years of Khmer Rouge rule, first to refugee camps along the Thai border in 1979, then resettling in the US in 1984. He completed his formal education with a Master of Fine Arts in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2002, he made the decision to return permanently to Cambodia, where he was able to re-invent his art through the exploration of indigenous materials, the rattan and bamboo that are ubiquitous to the countryside in which he was born and which form part of his earliest memories.