Rachel Ruysch I (Small New Order)
About the work
Place: Department for International Trade, Old Admiralty Building
‘Rachel Ruysch I (Small New Order)’, an archival inkjet print by Gordon Cheung, originates from a high-resolution photograph of a still life painting by the Dutch artist Rachel Ruysch (1664–1750). It is one of a series of similar prints that Cheung produced in 2015, and each work was inspired by paintings by Ruysch and a later generation Dutch artist, Eelke Jelles Eelkema (1788–1839). Disarmingly, the pastel colours of the floral still life appear as if they are dripping down the composition, almost like paint smeared on glass. Cheung achieved this effect digitally by reorganising the pixels of the image according to an open source algorithm that, in effect, ‘dissolves’ it, creating what he describes as a ‘digital sands of time effect’.
Cheung’s interest in still life from the Dutch Golden Age – a genre of painting that often contained depictions of tulips – stems from the fact that financial speculation of the tulip bulb in the 17th century encouraged an economic hiatus at the time. The popularity of still life paintings is a visual reflection of a wider sense of greed in an era in which the East India Trade Company evolved as one of the first multinational companies. Through its dominance and accrual of wealth by trade around the world, it laid the foundations as an early model for modern capitalism. Cheung’s work investigates the romantic narrative behind the Dutch still life, telling ‘the story of the futility of materiality versus the fragility of mortality’, and how it ‘ideologically launders the depiction of wealth, power and status’.
About the artist
Having grown up in both Hong Kong and England, Gordon Cheung studied painting at Central St Martins College and the Royal College of Art. He has exhibited extensively and in 2005 was part of British Art Show 6 at the Baltic, Gateshead and the John Moores Painting Prize in 2006. He was awarded the Arts Council of England Individual Arts Award in 2005 and won the Jerwood Contemporary Painters Prize in 2008. Recent solo exhibitions include 'New Order Vanitas', Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, West Palm Beach, Florida (2017); 'Unknown Knowns', Edel Assanti, London, (2017); 'Here Be Dragons', Nottingham Castle Museum, Nottingham (2016); and 'Lines in the Sand', Leila Heller Gallery, Dubai (2016). Cheung’s work is held in many private and public collections including the Yale Center for British Art, Connecticut; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C.; Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester; and the British Museum, London. He lives and works in London.
Gordon Cheung (1975 - )
- Rachel Ruysch I (Small New Order)
- Series Title
- Small New Order
- Archival inkjet print
- height: 74.7 cm, width: 58.6 cm
- Purchased from Alan Cristea Gallery, May 2017
- Signed on label verso
- Alan Cristea Gallery; purchased May 2017
- GAC number