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  • Provenance

    Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist in the 1960s)
    Christie’s, Paris, 9 December 2011, Lot 108
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay


    Nicolas de Staël
    Le Ciel Rouge (The Red Sky), 1952
    Collection of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
    Arriving in France at the age of 35 in 1955, formally trained in the traditional technique of Chinese paintings, Chu Teh-Chun found himself immersed in an unprecedented creative era in Paris, providing the perfect context for the development of his new endeavour in abstraction as a unique fusion of Eastern and Western cultures. Inspired by the great French-Russian abstractionist Nicolas de Staël, his artistic transformation from figuration to abstraction reached its height in 1960s. Having made his mark in the first solo show held at Galerie Henriette Legendre in 1960, Chu reached a new height of maturity in his poetically constructed abstract landscapes during this decade and established himself as one of the most important figures in Chinese modernist art.

    Executed in 1962, No. 111 is a captivating example of Chu Teh-Chun’s most defining period and demonstrates the artist’s meticulous artistry with its elaborate details filling the composition mapped across the entire canvas. The mélange of peacock blue blocks set against burgundy swaths create a deep and alluring visual feast, resembling hazy rubicund clouds resting above a valley, shining with dim blue lights. Rendered with unbridled, broad brushstrokes that recalls Nicolas de Stael’s influential landscape of contrasting hues and rough textures that sensuously coat the surface, combined with the thin translucent lines from the diluted colour washes, the alternation of thickness and texture generates extraordinary movement to embody the invisible force of nature.


    Huang Tingjian
    Biographies of Lian Po and Lin Xiangru, ca.1095
    With the artist’s dexterous mastery of the contrast between light and dark, the work fully conveys the poetic essence of traditional Chinese ink painting. The fluid brushworks of black ink tracing the mountain ridges inject a vibrant energy across the work, evoking a sense instantaneous movement found in the Chinese calligraphic style of caoshu (cursive script), in which characters are written in one continuous stroke. It speaks to Chu Teh-Chun’s early training in calligraphy since childhood when he pursued this practice daily, and therefore became an integral part of his painterly exploration to incorporate a synthesis of landscape painting and calligraphy. Explaining his source of inspiration in blending Chinese traditional painting with abstraction, Chu explains, ‘Artist absorbs what he sees in nature and refines it in his mind, and what is revealed on canvas is the power of the artist’s imagination, his sensibility, and his inner character.’ The present lot No. 111 undoubtedly bears a legacy that unites the cultures and aesthetic traditions of the East and West on a single painterly surface.

    In recognition of the artist’s contribution to 20th century Chinese art history, the National Museum of China in Beijing will hold a major retrospective of Chu Teh-Chun’s work in March 2021 to celebrate the centenary of the artist’s birth, followed by a second exhibition in Suzhou, the city of his birth, focusing on his works on paper.

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No.111

《111號》

1962
signed 'CHU TEH-CHUN [in Chinese and Pinyin]' lower right; further signed, titled, and dated 'CHU TEH-CHUN [in Pinyin and Chinese] 1962 "No.111"' on the reverse
oil on canvas
50 x 50 cm. (19 5/8 x 19 5/8 in.)
Painted in 1962, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist's wife, Chu Ching-Chao. This work will be included in the artist's forthcoming catalogue raisonné on the work of Chu Teh-Chun, being prepared by Fondation Chu Teh-Chun. (Information provided by Fondation Chu Teh-Chun and Mrs Chu Ching-Chao.)

Estimate
HK$1,800,000 - 2,800,000 
€206,000-321,000
$231,000-359,000

sold for HK$2,375,000

Contact Specialist
Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art and Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 9 July 2020