Chu Teh-Chun - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, November 26, 2016 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Galerie Patrice Trigano, Paris
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Paris, Galerie Patrice Trigano, Chu Teh-Chun Peintures récentes, November, 2009
    Taipei, Vintage Gallery, Abstraction and Figuration, July, 2012

  • Catalogue Essay

    Powerful expanses of opulent blue, enveloping whimsically speckled strokes of rose, cream, bright yellow and burnt umber, pull the viewer into Untitled, Chu Teh-Chun’s masterful landscape of light, space and energy. Untitled represents one of several key works created towards the end of the artist’s life, showcasing the level of skill and brilliance Chu had amassed over the course of his long and highly decorated artistic career. The deep blue and vibrant green pigments, colours associated with fertility, rebirth and the power of creation, evoke the legend from the 4th century BC classical Chinese Daoist text, Daode jing, elucidating how the earth and heavens were separated from primal chaos eons ago. The shattering unfolding linear elements of abstraction demonstrate the oftentimes paradoxical sense of bold vigour and delicacy that characterises Chu’s mature works. Pierre Restany writes, ‘Chu Teh-Chun’s painting appears to me as a mental enigma, a theatre where moving shadows act without revealing their secret: the image leads to a perpetual Elsewhere which remains both elusive and irrevocably present’ (Pierre Restany, ‘The Land of Chu’ in Chu Teh-Chun, Paris, 2000, p. 9).

    Chu began studying at the famous National School of Fine Arts in Hangzhou at a young age under Lin Fengmian, a highly respected artist who advocated for a free-spirited attitude in art-making, embracing both Chinese and Western methodologies. An innovative and open-minded approach for the time, Lin’s teachings had a profound effect on Chu and many of his young peers included the renowned Wu Guanzhong and Zao Wou-ki. Gilbert Euroart writes, ‘Chu Teh-Chun neither abandons nor rejects his memories of the East, and instead incorporates them on his canvases in the most appropriate manner. Avoiding the trap of the cultural pastiche, he has found a different but harmonious path.’ (Gilbert Erouart, The Biography of Chu Teh-Chun by Zu Wei, Shanghai, 2001). In Untitled, the artist’s continued practice of Chinese calligraphy seeps onto the canvas giving form to vigorous lines that embody the rhythmic qualities of the written sign. Furthermore on Chu’s technique, Wu writes, ‘Chu applies the ink wash technique with oil painting, to innovate traditional Chinese ink painting. He also thins the oil paint into transparent, luminous colors on canvas to create the significant bleaching effect of Chinese painting paper’ (Wu Guanzhong, Chu Teh-Chun: Nature in Abstraction, Hong Kong, 2012, p. 12).

    After emigrating to France in 1955, Chu’s experiences of seeing the paintings of Nicolas de Staël in 1957 and viewing an exhibition of the Dutch Master painter, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn in 1969, played critical roles in defining his artistic vision. De Staël’s thick sumptuous textures and solid blocks of colour are manifested in Chu’s work, evidenced by the motley of quadrilateral insertions of pigment applied by a heavily-loaded brush. In the same vein as Rembrandt’s signature composition, in which the Dutch Master would illuminate figures by placing them in front of dark backgrounds, Chu often depicts small dazzling spots of radiant light that are intensified by the contrasting sombre backdrop. Chu’s process of integrating both Chinese and Western abstract painting, in addition to his impeccable control of the brush, are widely regarded as the main reasons why Chu gained such acclaim in the Paris art scene, having been elected to L’Institute de France in 1999, the highest honour in the French art world, as well as enduring critical attention in the international art scene today, with major exhibitions of his works including a large-scale retrospective at the Shanghai Museum (2000) and a solo exhibition at the Busan Museum of Art (2001).

Property of an Important Asian Collector



signed and dated 'Chu Teh-Chun [in Pinyin and Chinese] 2007.08' lower right
oil on canvas
99.8 x 80.5 cm. (39 1/4 x 31 3/4 in.)
Painted in 2007.

HK$1,800,000 - 2,200,000 

Sold for HK$1,750,000

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20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 27 November 2016