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Gordon Cheung, Arrow to Heaven, Almine Rech Gallery, Paris

Gordon Cheung's (Studio TW-015) solo exhibition Arrow to Heaven, his first at Almine Rech Gallery in Paris, is on view from 28 June until 30 July 2022.

Arrow to Heaven 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.

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.

Text by Sunny Cheung, Curator of M+, Museum of visual culture in Hong Kong, courtesy Almine Rech.

Almine Rech Gallery, 18 avenue Matignon, 75008 Paris.

Image: Gordon Cheung in his studio, courtesy the artist and Almine Rech Gallery, 2022