The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (solo show)

7 Aug – 1 Nov 2009
Opening 6 August 2009 6-8pm

Gordon Cheung creates hallucinogenic visions inspired by a wide range of sources including science fiction, 18th century romantic painting, zombie films, cartoons and current affairs. His works reflect on such contemporary issues as the war on terror, religion, economics, globalisation, the digital age and technology.

For this exhibition, the artist will create a significant new body of works including contemporary interpretations of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Goya’s Disasters of War. For the first time, sculpture and animations will be shown alongside his more familiar mixed media paintings.

The theme of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse runs throughout the exhibition ranging from a large wall painting to a series of laser etchings to sculptures and an animated video installation. The horse and rider is an evocative symbol loaded with cultural references. The story of the Four Horsemen is a biblical reference which has prompted a range of interpretations. Representing Conquest, War, Famine and Death, Cheung gives them a contemporary twist, transforming them into eloquent metaphors of our own time.

In his brand new animations, references to cowboys and bull riders are clearly apparent. As cultural icons, they commonly represent a romantic image of the pioneering spirit or man’s will to overcome nature but they also mask a history of violence, bloodshed and cruelty. Cheung’s riders are seated on bulls rather than horses. Man and beast together reference the minotaur, a mythical creature from Greek mythology comprised of half man and half bull. As with his characteristic use of stock listings from the Financial Times, man and bull symbolise the Bull Market or Stock Market and the data-saturated and wealth-obsessed era in which we live. As the viewer of the 4 projections, we are surrounded by bucking minotaurs in a post-apocalyptic landscape endlessly circling and struggling to de-seat their riders. To see each animation, we must also turn around, our physical relationship to the work creating a disorientating and unsettling effect.

The exhibition also includes two brand new series’ of laser etchings based on Durer’s depiction of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Goya’s Disasters of War. Cheung has taken the original images and manipulated them to further enhance these demonic visions. A brand new series of sculptures has also been created using a cast of a Long Horn Bull skull.

Cheung has also created a new set of thirty portraits which represent the Top Ten Billionaires, the Top Ten Dead Celebrities who are still earning and the Top Ten Hackers. They are symptomatic of our obsession with wealth, celebrity and power. Cheung has allowed the paint to drip down his canvases, creating an appearance of melting flesh and recalling classic zombie films where the protagonists are motivated by an overpowering will to consume and destroy.

At the beginning of the twenty first century, we have already witnessed apocalyptic events in terms of war, natural disasters, the collapse of the economy and environmental change. In his work, Cheung appears to capture something of the essence of this age. By re-visiting history, he has created work that is both contemporary and compelling.

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with an essay by Paul Hobson, director of Contemporary Art Society. The catalogue will be published in September.

The artist will lead a tour of his exhibition on Saturday 3 October at 2pm.
Please reserve your free place in advance by calling 01922 654400.


The New Art Gallery Walsall
Gallery Square, Walsall, West Midlands WS2 8LG

10am - 5pm Monday to Saturday
11am - 4pm Sunday
T: +44 (0) 01922 654400
Textphone: 0845 1112910
Free admission



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