Leila Heller Gallery Dubai presents a selection of large scale paintings by Gordon Cheung in his first solo exhibition in Dubai entitled “Lines in the Sand”. Cheung maps the geopolitical landscape within the context of a broader human story invoking a causal chain that dates back to the dawn of civilisation. The landscapes of Cheung’s works are populated by references that are both generic and specific, apparitions of a digital age in which reality is experienced as much through technological mediation as first-hand. These paintings begin life as digital sketches, aggregating a mass of found internet imagery in a multilayered, simulated landscape resembling a toxic hyper-reality. Degenerative city scenes and noxious deserts, familiar from dystopic science fiction, form the backdrop against which the drama of the rise and fall of empires is enacted.
Cheung’s paintings are firmly situated within current international power politics such as: an aerial view of Guantanamo Bay; seemingly anonymous factories (in fact belonging to the world’s largest arms manufacturers); disputed island chains seized by The People’s Republic of China for strategic reasons. The unsettling atmosphere of his work lies in its projection of these collective anxieties, alongside the insinuation that we represent a fleeting moment in, rather than the end of human history. In an ever-muddying landscape we are left to distil myth from truth, reality from hallucination. British-born Chinese artist Cheung’s 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. Yet despite the post-apocalyptic mood the paintings offer glimmers of hope, their multi-layered spaces encourage perception beyond what is at first visible.