Flooded with daylight underneath the rooflight at the back of the gallery hang window frames, like exhibits in a museum of architecture, but here they are made of aluminium frames (rather than timber/bamboo) overlaid with financial newspapers, with the patterns and designs representing window frames from traditional houses which have demolished in the name of progress and of money – hence the financial newspapers -, a theme which artist Gordon Cheung has used in previous exhibitions, which also represents the centralised state machinery which plans and implements the immense urban, transport and infrastructure projects as China seeks to modernise itself for the 21st century. Sadly centralised planning, finance, industrialisation and scale leaves little opportunity to protect and enhance traditional cultures; there is an ongoing tension between modernisation and tradition.
Gordon Cheung explores the tensions of China’s ongoing development and urbanisation in the context of its historic culture and landscape at the Edel Assanti Gallery. The scale of investments to create a global 21st century power are mind-blowing.
By coincidence, at the same time as Gordon Cheung’s work is on show at Edel Assanti, China is unfortunately gripped in the coronavirus epidemic, which in some ways also reflects the conflict between old traditions – in this case the traditional wildlife markets – vs the modern international connected world where people easily travel across the globe. The two are in conflict!
The five paintings alongside in his exhibition ‘Tears of Paradise’ are, when you look hard, also created from sheets of financial newspapers over which Cheung has painted a landscape which is changing to a cityscape, with a solitary building remaining from – with an ambiguity – is this a modern building or one left from a previous generation and, if so, how long will it remain?