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Gordon Cheung

10 February - 19 March 2022

The Dutch Golden Age still life genre can be a display of wealth, power and status but simultaneously it launders its darker history of civilisation with its militarised trade routes, colonisation and slavery.


Through an interest in the idea of the ‘glitch’, using open-source photographic images of still life paintings of the Dutch Golden Age from the Rijks Museum, Gordon Cheung uses an algorithm code, which creates what he calls ‘sand dune effects’. It doesn’t destroy or copy any of the pixels in the image, it simply rearranges them rather beautifully, so enabling the result to stand as a metaphor for re-ordering the established way of things. Cheung applied the algorithm thousands of times to each giclée on canvas in the exhibition at postROOM, ‘glitching’ them as if they were being corrupted by a virus. Visually it looks as though the sands of time have eroded each painting.


Each of Cheung’s ‘glitch works,’  which are named after the artist of the original paintings, tend towards an entropic state. Their value has been dissolved by the glitching algorithm under Cheung’s control and the paintings have become as ephemeral as the flowers themselves. The flower heads and pieces of fruit in these prints dematerialize e.g. in ‘Jan van Huysum Fruit Piece’, they float like disembodied heads as the background turns to sand around them.  Entropy can be beautiful, complex and intense and these ‘glitch works’ skilfully hide and simultaneously reveal the fact that they are really about ostentatious depictions of wealth, power and status.


Manifest Destiny is a glitched photograph of a painting called American Progress by John Gast in 1872. Manifest Destiny was a widely held belief in 19th Century United States that settlers were entitled by divine right to conquer and justify genocide against native Americans. By ‘glitching’ the photographs of the paintings that reorders the pixels, it suggests revising historical amnesia, to unweave history written by victors, and to reflect upon the present.

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