Almine Rech is pleased to present 'Arrow to Heaven', a selection of works by artist Gordon Cheung, on view from June 28 to July 30, 2022.
Cheung’s first solo at Almine Rech takes as its historical marker, the Second Opium War, which lasted from 1856-1860. It consists of a number of new paintings and sculptures which further explores his interest in understanding the development of Modern China and continues his interests in revealing these lesser known histories of China and its invasion by the West. The heaven in the title refers to the city of Tianjian, which is translated as Heaven’s boundary or Ford and was the location where the Treaty of Tianjian was signed signalling the end of the Second Opium War.
The show is a study of confluences, a look at an intertwined history between two largely contrasting cultures, religions and philosophies at a historical juncture of huge acceleration on one side, charging headlong into Modernism. Cheung’s paintings are a multi-layered account of human activity and history and his interest stems from his upbringing as a British born Chinese and his desire to understand his own roots. His work speaks to a wide range of influences, from romanticists such as Caspar David Friedrich to sculptures influenced by Chinese Window designs. However, Cheung’s paintings are anything but polite, the acidic colour palettes (somewhat reminiscent of the swirling pyrotechnical allegories of the Victorian painter John Martin) suggest chemical interactions of a world ravaged by human industry, perhaps even on the brink of anthropogenic chaos or the aftermath of a nuclear war.
Sunny Cheung, Curator of M+.