A poetic exploration of the relationship between nature, culture, and power in the digital age. Through a series of paintings and sculptures, viewers are invited to contemplate the rise and fall of civilisations in the age of globalisation.
The exhibition held at The Atkinson is constructed around the concept of a Chinese garden with sculptures created from Financial Times newspapers which draw inspiration from traditional Chinese ‘scholar’s rocks’ or ‘spirit stones’. Embodying microcosms of landscapes, they are meditative focal points between nature and civilisation.
Surrounding the sculptures are paintings of landscapes and still lifes, composed of scenes from the 1744 Qianlong Emperor’s imperial album “40 Views of the Yuanming Yuan”. These paintings have been digitally reformed to hover like auroras over the top GDP cities of Modern China, providing a haunting contemporary juxtaposition to the historical imagery.
The Garden of Perfect Brightness is named after the English translation of the Yuanming Garden in Beijing. It was also known as the Old Summer Palace, a site of immense historical and cultural significance representing the pinnacle of artistic and cultural achievement in China that was tragically destroyed during the 1860’s 2nd Opium War. In a poignant reflection, the historical references paired with natural imagery offer a message of hope and renewal: a reminder of the beauty and impermanence of all things.
Gordon Cheung – The Garden of Perfect Brightness
On view until September 9, 2023
The Atkinson, Southport, UK
Born 1975 in London to Chinese parents, Gordon Cheung has developed an innovative approach to making art, which blurs virtual and actual reality to reflect on the existential questions of what it means to be human in civilisations with histories written by victors. Cheung raises questions and critiques the effects of global capitalism, its underlying mechanisms of power on our perception of identity, territory and sense of belonging. These narratives are refracted through the prisms of culture, mythology, religion, and politics into dreamlike spaces of urban surreal worlds that are rooted in his in-between identity.
Cheung graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting in 1998 from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London and earned his Masters of Fine Arts in 2001 from the Royal College of Art in London.
His works are held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., the Whitworth Art Museum in Manchester, Royal College of Art in London, and the British Museum, amongst others. He lives and works in London.