Art Detail | Ilham Gallery

Untitled is an organic-form, biomorphic sculpture that shows Sopheap Pich’s continued engagement with structures found in nature, such as plants. The work is inspired from the seed pod of the Beng tree (Afzelia xylocarpa), which grows throughout Cambodia but is now considered to be endangered due to excessive logging. Pich gathered seed pods from trees growing near his studio, offering them as a symbol of both the resiliency and the fragility of the Cambodian ecosystem. The sculpture, which resembles a pair of lungs, also recalls his early body of work, where sculptural forms were derived from the internal organs of the human body, such as the heart, lungs, and intestines. With this work, this artist explores the fluidity of line and the free expansion of volume, all delimited by the basic forms of natural structures.

Bamboo, rattan, goat hide, wire, burlap, synthetic resin
252 x 185 x 33 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Sopheap Pich
About Sopheap Pich

Born in Battambang, Cambodia, in 1971, Pich moved with his family to the United States in 1984. After receiving his BFA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1995 and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999, he returned to Cambodia in 2002. There, he began working with local materials — bamboo, rattan, burlap, beeswax and earth pigments gathered from around Cambodia — to make sculptures inspired by bodily organs, vegetal forms, and abstract geometric structures. Pich’s childhood experiences during the genocidal conditions of late 1970s Cambodia had a lasting impact on his practice, and the themes of time, memory, and the body recur in his work. His sculptures stand out for their subtlety and power, combining a refinement of form with a visceral, emotive force.

Learning Section

Sopheap Pich’s sculpture intertwines elements of nature and the human condition to highlight the increasing frailty of Cambodia’s ecosystem threatened by excessive logging. The artwork depicts a pod-shaped pair of lungs inspired from the seed pod of the now endangered Beng tree (Afzelia xylocarpa). 

  • The Cambodian Beng tree is a very large tropical tree. It can grow up to 30 metres tall and its trunk up to 2 metres in diameter. Every part of the tree can be used for a variety of purposes which is why it is high in demand. Out of all the tree parts the artist could have used, why do you think he chose the seed to depict in his sculpture? 

  • Why do you think the artist wanted to depict the pod shape in the image of a pair of lungs? Think about the bodily function of the lungs and what pods as seeds represent. How do these symbolisms work in tandem? 

  • One half of the lung is hollow and shaped with wire, while the other is filled and shaped with natural materials. What does this signify?



  • Excessive and illegal logging has caused severe, irreparable environmental issues such as loss of habitat leading to the growing extinction of flora and fauna. How would you portray this issue? Paint or draw your ideas. 

  • Look around your home or garden for natural materials such as leaves and sticks, or recycled materials like scrap papers or empty egg cartons. Create your own sculpture using these materials to represent your thoughts on the environment.