press release

Opening Reception: Thursday, March 19, 2009, 6-8pm

Promised Land –noun 1. Heaven. 2. Canaan, the land promised by God to Abraham and his descendants. Gen. 12:7. 3. (often lowercase) a place or situation believed to hold ultimate happiness.

Jack Shainman is pleased to present British Born Chinese artist Gordon Cheung’s first solo gallery show in the USA. His dual background has fuelled his interest in paradoxically belonging and not to both cultures, a condition that led him to focus his work on existence in the artificial landscape of globalization. For Cheung we are all in an in-between state.

Using Financial Times stock listings as a ground in his multi-media paintings Cheung depicts spaces inspired by 19th-century Romantic landscape paintings and Science Fiction. The listings are a metaphor for the dominant global economic ideology that maps the torrential streams of capital around the world. Cheung’s paintings are ‘virtual-reality environments’ where ‘faith’ in the numbers of the stock exchange to deliver a ‘Promised Land’ dictates our lives. An overarching theme of his work is of the ‘techno-sublime’; instead of an overwhelming experience of nature bringing us closer to God, the visual rhetoric of the sublime has exchanged to omnipotent information which overwhelms us with an artificial landscape.

Cheung based the show around the romantic myth of the pioneering spirit and the ideas of manifest destiny. He is fascinated by the Sublime landscape genre where there is an undercurrent of propaganda of taking what God has ‘given’ you, never mind the blood soaking along the way - Beauty, Shock and Awe; War on Terror and political gain. Paintings of Rodeo riders become both Romantic icons of conquest and allegories for man’s relationship with the environment. Bull riders, contemporary versions of the Minotaur, combine man and bull to serve as an analogy for the financial bull market and extreme corporate being.

Cheung’s technicolor palette scorches the sentimental sepia and flesh tones of the stock listings and creates luminosity within the work. His colors are toxic with a psychedelic and hallucinatory vision referencing the counter-cultural movement, a neon glare, a nuclear sunset, a drug induced vision or even a religious heavenly light. They are artificially luminous, a metaphor perhaps for a techno-utopian vision; when the Internet and mobile phones became readily available it fuelled the digital and communications revolution that gave rise to such terms as Information Superhighways, digital frontiers and global villages. All of which fell into dystopia after the millennium bug, the dotcom crash, collapse of Enron, destruction of the twin towers – and all before the current recession. Yet despite the post-apocalyptic mood the paintings offer glimmers of hope, their multi-layered spaces encourage perception beyond what is at first visible.

Gordon Cheung lives and works in London. He earned his Master of Fine Arts in Painting from the Royal College of Art in 2001 and has exhibited his work in both solo and group exhibitions internationally at such venues as the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washinton, DC; the Aldrich Museum, Connecticut; the Royal Academy of Arts, London; Arizona State Univeristy Art Museum, Arizona; and the BALTIC, Gateshead. He has a forthcoming major museum solo show at the New Art Gallery, Walsall UK 2009

Gordon Cheung
The Promised Land

First solo show in New York.