No. 164

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  • Condition Report

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, France
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2008

  • Catalogue Essay

    Speaking about the first retrospective of Nicolas de Stael’s work at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in 1956, Chu confided:

    “It was a real revelation of the freedom of expression to me. From now on I freed myself from my twenty years of figurative work to follow my path in non-figurative painting. I slowly turned towards the inspiring thinking of traditional Chinese painting. I discovered the poetry in it and its way of observing nature which is close to Western neo-impressionist painting and particularly to abstract art. Working unconsciously on a synthesis of the two cultures, I suppressed emotion as the driving force and prolonged it through pictorial expression” (interview with Gérard Xuriguera, Les Années 50, Arted, 1984).

    This statement testifies to the intense artistic stimulation which Chu Teh-Chun, an already-accomplished artist at the time, felt when he arrived in France in 1955. Post-war France was the field to an unprecedented creative era with international artists investigating abstraction in their own personal research, from texture to space, from gesture to geometry, drawing from nature to the cityscape with connections to the American action painting and the Japanese Gutai movement, a multifaceted group of artists under the banner of the “Nouvelle Ecole de Paris”, a term coined by critic Charles Estiennes in 1952. Paris acted as a catalyst for the Chinese artist who suddenly had access to the International Avant-Garde, the Louvre Museum collections, European art history and a welcome distance from his own culture: the perfect context in which to develop his new abstract style as a unique fusion of both Eastern and Western cultures.

    In No. 164, Chu’s choice of colours captures his control of balance and depth in an intricate game of texture, alternating ink-like washes of deep blue and green with saturated hues of bright red outlined by solid black lines. The artist successfully diluted the oils to create the visual effect of thin ink-like washes whilst containing them to allow negative space. The unusual vertical format, with a predominantly white modulated background, further enhances the reference to scroll-mounted Chinese classical landscape paintings. With canvas as a basis and oil as his medium, Chu perfectly translates a cornerstone of Chinese tradition using the most Western form of expression, advancing a quest for the renewal of Chinese art that characterizes the golden decade of the 1960s.

    1963 marked the crowning year of his collaboration with Galerie Henriette Legendre, and the artist’s third solo show. It was accompanied by a preface by Gérald Gassiot-Talabot, who wrote: “His painting flows naturally, warm and vibrant, impervious to definitions… it is a lyrical offering murmured in the secret of a serious life of meditation or bursting out noisily like a hymn, when the artist rediscovers the phrasing of great T’ang layouts.”

    Chu Teh-Chun had studied calligraphy since his childhood, where his father first encouraged him to study the kuangcao (wild-cursive script) of Wang Xizhi. He then pursued the practice almost daily throughout his career, which the artist conceived as both a break from and an integral part of his painterly exploration. In No. 164 the forceful calligraphic lines create a strong compositional structure, emphasising the bold colorful brushstrokes and enhancing a feeling of dynamic movement and rhythm. In the 1960s he developed a new pictorial language merging writing, representation and abstraction in a unique painterly style, with a mastery rooted in the tradition of the arts of writing, where the ideograms and images are combined in one entity. Around the same period, German artist Hans Hartung was also investigating the dark line with recourse to calligraphy. While Hartung isolates the line on a plain background, keeping its essence as a sign intact, Chu integrates it as a key element of a complex abstract landscape-like composition in a synthesis of landscape painting and calligraphy.

    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 April 2020 to celebrate the centenary of the artist’s birth, followed by a second exhibition at the end of 2020 in Suzhou, the city of his birth, focusing on his works on paper.

  • Catalogue Essay

    在談到尼古拉·德·斯塔埃爾,其1956年在巴黎國立現代藝術博物館的首個回顧展時,朱德群吐露:

    「這對我來說,是對表達的自由之一種真正啟示。從現在起,我將把自己從我二十年的具象作品中解放,走上非具象繪畫的道路。我慢慢轉向了中國傳統繪畫的啟發性思想。我發現了其中所具有的詩意,以及其觀察自然的方式,這種方式與西方新印象派繪畫,以及特別是抽象藝術非常相近。在創作中不知不覺地將兩種文化進行融合,我將情感克制以將其作為驅動力,並通過繪畫表達來將其延長」(與熱拉爾·絮利蓋拉的訪談,《50年代》,Arted,1984年)。

    這一席話證明了當時已經是一位成就斐然的藝術家的朱德群,在1955年來到巴黎之後,所受到的強烈藝術刺激。戰後法國經正歷著一個前所未有的藝術時代,來自世界各地的藝術家們在其中以各自的研究去探索抽象藝術,從紋理到空間,從動態到幾何形狀,從自然到城市景觀,都與美國的行動繪畫,以及日本的具體派運動聯繫在一起。後者是由一批「新巴黎畫派」旗下的從事多元創作的藝術家所組成的,而「新巴黎畫派」這一術語則由評論家Charles Estiennes於1952年所創。巴黎成為這位中國藝術家發展的催化劑,他忽然之間可以接觸到國際前衛藝術、盧浮宮博物館的藏品,歐洲藝術史以及與自己的文化可喜的距離:發展自己全新的融合東西方文化的抽象風格之完美語境。

    在《第164號》中,朱德群對色彩的選擇捕捉到了他對紛繁的肌理在平衡和深度上的控制,交替著水墨式的深藍和深綠色,與用實心黑線勾勒出的鮮紅色飽和色調。藝術家成功地稀釋了油畫顏料,創造出像水墨一般的視覺效果,同時又將其節制,來製造負空間。不尋常的垂直形式,以白色背景為主,進一步強化了對捲軸式中國古典山水畫的指涉。以畫布作為基礎,油畫顏料作為介質,朱德群通過使用最為西方化的表現形式,對中國傳統的基石做出完美的詮釋,推動了對中國藝術復興的追求,並成為1960年代黃金十年的特徵。

    1963年標誌著他與巴黎勒讓特畫廊合作,以及藝術家的第三次個展的重要一年。同期吉拉爾德·佳西歐-塔拉波在展覽前言中寫道:「他的繪畫自然流暢、溫暖鮮活、不拘一格...那是認真沈思冥想的人生中,懷揣著秘密之詩意低吟,或是大聲爆發的讚美詩,當藝術家重新發現了偉大唐代佈局的語彙。」

    朱德群少年時期就開始學習書法,父親首先鼓勵他學習王羲之的狂草。之後,在他的整個職業生涯中他幾乎每天都進行練習,他將其視為既是他在繪畫上的探索的一種抽離,又是其中不可或缺的一部分。在《第164號》中,有力的書法線條創造了強大的構圖結構,強調了大膽的彩色筆觸,並增強了一種動感和節奏感。在書寫藝術的傳統中,意像文字和圖像同為一體,憑藉根治於此傳統的高超技巧,他在1960年代發展出了一種新的繪畫語言,以獨特的繪畫風格融合了書法、表現和抽象。大約在同一時期,德國藝術家漢斯·哈同也正在研究利用書法進行創作的黑色線條。哈同在素淡背景中將線條獨立出來,保持其作為標識符號的本質不變,而朱德群則在結合風景畫和書法的過程中,將其作為關鍵元素融入到了複雜的抽象風景般之構圖中。

    為了表彰藝術家對二十世紀中國藝術史的貢獻,北京的中國國家博物館,將在2020年4月舉辦朱德群作品大型回顧展,以慶祝藝術家誕辰一百週年。

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Property from an Important French Collection

No. 164

1963
signed 'CHU TEH-CHUN [in Chinese and Pinyin] lower right; further signed, titled and dated 'CHU TEH-CHUN [in Chinese and Pinyin] 1963 "No. 164" ' on the reverse
oil on canvas
120 x 60 cm (47 1/4 x 23 5/8 in.)
Painted in 1963, this work will be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the Fondation Chu Teh-Chun.

Estimate
HK$6,000,000 - 8,000,000 
€691,000-921,000
$769,000-1,030,000

Place Advance Bid
Contact Specialist
Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Evening Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 24 November 2019