Chu Teh-Chun - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale Hong Kong Friday, October 6, 2023 | Phillips
  • Pulsating with rhythmic dynamism and tonal variation, No. 156 is a splendid archetype of Chu Teh-Chun’s groundbreaking 1960s compositions. Rendered in varying shades of black, the present work stands as a significant and distinctive painting within the artist’s oeuvre. No. 156 was executed eight years after Chu had relocated from Taiwan to France and although he had gradually assimilated artistic influences from his encounters and experiences in the West, viewers are able to bear witness to the artist’s return to his Oriental roots through the present work.


    Despite being painted in the Western medium of oil, No. 156 particularly demonstrates the artist’s ability in upholding the bravura and spirit of traditional Eastern calligraphy techniques in both brushwork and composition. A melding of lines and strokes create a harmonious balance between weight and lightness – provoking ever-shifting spaces that reverberate before the eyes of the beholder. A glimmer of incandescent light luminesces through the calligraphic lines in the lower left quadrant. It is evident that No. 156 was painted at the cusp of a critical shift the artist took in the early 1960s – a period in which his practice was characterised by isolated geometric shapes and detached black brushstrokes that liquesced into ethereal abstract landscapes. The present work can be understood as one of the last paintings to exist before the aforementioned transition between 1962 and 1963; when Chu began departing from low-key blacks within his palette to experimenting with more vivid colours.


    The artist in his studio


    The horizontal format of this composition further showcases Chu’s mastery in spatial representation, whereby vertical bands of diluted brushstrokes along the top of the canvas intersect with a thick, prolonged stroke of obsidian black – indicating a clear division between land and sky. It is important to note that in the early years of the 1960s Chu’s brushstrokes became increasingly bold and sweeping, as is the case with the present work – resulting in an astounding amalgamation of urgency and grace.


    During the same year that the present work was created, Chu participated in chinesische künstler der gegenwart in Milan, Italy as well as Leverkusen, Germany, before exhibiting his works at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, USA. Already making his mark in the international art scene, galleries in Switzerland, Belgium, Greece, and Israel had also exhibited his works and he was recommended to various professional publications by art critics such as Georges Boudaille, Gérald Gassiot-Talabot and Jean-Jacques Leveque. This epoch was the most formative period in Chu’s illustrious career as it engendered an entirely new visual language that was solely unique to the artist. No. 156 undoubtedly epitomises this era and stands as a pivotal work by the artist to appear at auction this season.

    • Provenance

      Galerie Pierre, Taichung
      Acquired from the above by the present owner


No. 156

signed 'CHU TEH-CHUN [in Chinese and Pinyin] lower left; further signed, titled and dated 'CHU TEH-CHUN [in Pinyin and Chinese] 1963 "No. 156"' on the reverse
oil on canvas
60.2 x 73 cm. (23 3/4 x 28 3/4 in.)
Painted in 1963, this work will be 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.)

Full Cataloguing

HK$1,500,000 - 2,500,000 

Contact Specialist

Anastasia Salnikoff
Head of Day Sale, Associate Specialist
+852 2318 2014

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 7 October 2023