Gordon Cheung: Breaking Tulips at Alan Cristea, 11 September – 6 October 2015

Gordon Cheung: Breaking Tulips at Alan Cristea, 11 September – 6 October 2015


Gordon Cheung: Breaking Tulips
11 September – 6 October 2015
Private view Thursday 10 September, 6 - 7.30 pm

Breaking Tulips, an exhibition of new work by Gordon Cheung, provides an historical reflection of contemporary culture through the exploration of the Dutch Golden Age, a period of extraordinary wealth and power in 16th- and 17th- century Holland. ‘Tulipmania’ was the world’s first recorded major financial crash, and is also the title of a series of twelve hand painted prints by Cheung. On public display at the Alan Cristea Gallery from 11 September until 6 October, Tulipmania 1 - 12 will be shown alongside a number of other works including prints based on Dutch 17th-century still lifes from the Rijksmuseum, together forming an exciting body of work which seeks to highlight that economic bubbles are not a modern-day phenomenon.

‘Tulipmania’ was a notorious episode in 17th-century Dutch history, in which the trading of tulip bulbs became so extreme that the price of one flower would sell for ten times the annual wage of a skilled worker. ‘Breaking Tulips’ refers to the then unknown plant virus that caused tulips to blossom with desirable stripes, making them exceptionally rare and valuable to tulip speculators almost 400 years ago. Based on original watercolours of tulips from speculators catalogues, Cheung depicts a single tulip on a layer of collaged stock listings newsprint from the ‘Financial Times’; these columns of data provide evidence of the complex digital networks that connect countless physical locations around the world in our wealth-obsessed era. Cheung relates this event to contemporary thinking, commenting, “In the context of the Dutch Golden Age the Tulip Breaking virus is both a biological and mind virus where a distorted sense of economic value has taken hold in a herd mentality.”
Cheung continues his negotiation between the past and present via openly sourced images of Dutch 17th-century still life paintings from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Using images of works by artists such as, Jacob van Walscapelle, Rachel Ruysch, Jan Davidsz de Heem and Hans Bollongier, Cheung disrupts the depicted still life so that it appears to melt down before our eyes.

“By using still life paintings from the Rijksmuseum and ‘glitching’ them with conceptual artist Kim Asendorf’s ‘open source algorithm’, I splice together a hybrid that compresses the past and suggests the transient repetition of history. The visual effect of the ‘glitching’ is to dissolve the paintings into virtual sand like effects. Nature seems caught in digital quick sands of pixels.”

Entitled New Order and Small New Order, these works will be shown alongside six hand-painted still life prints, named after the opening lines of Auguries of Innocence, a poem by 19th-century poet and artist William Blake (1757 – 1827), which uses apocalyptic imagery to warn society of the consequences of injustice and corruption.

Cheung’s art looks to the future, whilst remaining firmly rooted in the past; reminding us that recent and millennial frenzies and the boom and busts of housing markets are not modern occurrences. However, today we have adapted to a matrix of technologies that have electronically merged to create a virtual landscape. Our technology-driven era has disrupted our notions and perceptions of time and distance so that we now exist in a state of constant flux.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, with an introductory essay by art historian, writer and broadcaster Charlotte Mullins. Gordon Cheung, Charlotte Mullins and Prof. Karin Moelling will take part in a panel discussion on Tuesday 29 September, 6pm.



Tuesday 29 September 2015, 6pm

Join Gordon Cheung, who will discuss his latest body of work and exhibition with historian, writer and broadcaster Charlotte Mullins, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art Theory at Chelsea College of Art and Design Dan Smith and Professor Karin Moelling whose research into viruses sheds light on ‘Breaking Tulips,' a plant virus that causes tulips to blossom with stripes. To reserve you seat please email Free admission.


The Alan Cristea Gallery is the exclusive worldwide representative for Gordon Cheung’s original prints.


John Jones were pleased to provide framing for 12 works within this exhibition, the ‘Small New Order’ set of sourced images of Dutch 17th-century still life paintings from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Using images of works by artists such as, Jacob van Walscapelle, Rachel Ruysch, Jan Davidsz de Heem and Hans Bollongier. John Jones designed museum standard frames, mounting the artworks in wooden square profile frames, stained classic black. The works are glazed in 3mm UV protected Perspex. Find more information about John Jones framing

About the artist
Gordon Cheung was born 1975 in London. He studied painting at Central St Martins College of Art and at the Royal College of Art, London. He is best known for his epic, hallucinogenic landscapes constructed using an array of media including stock page listings, spray paint, acrylic, woodblock and inkjet printing. In 2005 Cheung part of the The British Art Show 6 which toured the UK and The John Moores Painting Prize in 2006.
He has exhibited extensively in the UK and abroad, including Germany, Bulgaria, United Arab Emirates, USA, Mexico, South Korea, and China. Recent exhibitions include, Summer Exhibition 2015, Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Azerbaijan Pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia 2015, Venice, Italy. Cheung's works are in international public and private collections including the British Museum, London, Government Art Collection, London, UBS Collection, London, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas, ASU Art Museum, Arizona and Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C.

About Alan Cristea Gallery
One of the leading commercial contemporary galleries in Europe, the Alan Cristea Gallery is the primary representative for a number of established international contemporary artists, artists’ estates and emerging artists. The gallery opened at 31 Cork Street in 1995 and since then has expanded to a
second exhibition space at 34 Cork Street, with both galleries showing a continuous programme of exhibitions including contemporary paintings, works on paper, sculpture and installations. In addition, the gallery is known for its commitment to original prints and editions, commissioning and facilitating innovative projects by outstanding artists, and is the largest publisher of contemporary editions and prints in Europe. Upcoming exhibitions and projects include Richard Hamilton, Cornelia Parker and Idris Khan.

The gallery is a member of the International Fine Print Dealers Association.
Visitor information: Mon-Fri 10am-5.30pm, Sat 11am-2pm
Travel: Piccadilly, Green Park or Bond Street Tube Station
Telephone: +44 (0) 207 439 1866
Twitter: @AlanCristea
Instagram: @alancristea
Facebook: Alan Cristea Gallery
Image: Gordon Cheung, Tulipmania 7, 2012. Archival inkjet print with hand painting. Paper 61.5 x 50.9cm. Edition of 20. Courtesy Gordon Cheung and Alan Cristea Gallery, London

Press Contact:
Gemma Colgan
+44 (0)20 7439 1866

Image: Gordon Cheung_Jan Davidsz. de Heem I (Small New Order)_2015. Courtesy Gordon Cheung and Alan Cristea Gallery