Ed Pien has gained recognition for his large-scale works that extend traditional notions about drawing. He achieves this by developing gallery installations that retain the intimacy of the drawing process. For Beyond Here, Pien presented a large installation approximately seventy-five feet in length and consisted of ink on layers of Chinese paper and Japanese silk tissue. The translucent quality of the paper allows the drawings that lie beneath the surface to read as shadows, which intermingle with the more legible images on the surface. The contrast in scale between the expanse of paper, the large drawings, the small drawings, and the vibrantly coloured tunnels creates a dynamic relationship between the viewer and the work. One can perceive the piece as one entity or as a series of individual drawings.
In his work, Pien explores the concepts of fear and vulnerability through referencing both historical and contemporary events as well as combining Eastern and Western mythologies. In Beyond Here his drawings depict strange, hydridized creatures that are engaged in an imaginary journey that reads from left to right across the gallery walls. While not a formal narrative, the figures suggest a dream-like transformation from a state of conflict to one of liberation and self-empowerment. Pien’s work is both seductive and unsettling. While the paper offers an impression of softness and warmth, it is extremely fragile. The figures project sensuality in the way they are rendered, but are ambiguous in their interpretation.