Gordon Cheung: The Garden of Perfect Brightness – Working Statement

Gordon Cheung: The Garden of Perfect Brightness – Working Statement

Named after the Yuanming Gardens in Beijing’s Summer Palace, an exhibition of new work by Gordon Cheung is the culmination of research into geopolitical and historical events including the Opium Wars, the rise and fall of civilisations and the digital age. The free exhibition opens at The Atkinson in Southport on Saturday 3 June 2023.

Working statement from Gordon:

“The Garden of Perfect Brightness” solo exhibition at The Atkinson is 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. Complex interplays of destruction and renewal, natural and artificial, and the duality of the “in-between” Chinese Diaspora identity, are all brought to light in the backdrop of geopolitical and historical events, in our rapidly changing world where history is written by victors.

The show 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, the sculptures reflect on a world formed by datascapes shaped by the light speed movements of capital that creates both utopias and dystopias.

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 In a poignant reflection, the historical references paired with natural imagery offer a message of hope and renewal: a reminder of the beauty and impermanence of all things.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

3 June – 9 September 2023
Free Entry. Monday – Saturday. 10am – 4pm.
Closed Sundays & Bank Holidays.
Plan your visit here.

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Posted on 13 April 2023 under Exhibition, General news

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