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  • One step closer to Songe de l'aube is like another step closer into the world of Chu Teh-Chun. Exemplifying the artist's creativity and imagination, this masterful 2 metre by 2 metre painting seamlessly translates a dreamscape onto canvas.


    By the beginning of the 1990s, Chu Teh-Chun had already undergone the exploration of his Snow Scene series from the 1980s, and as his creativity developed in conjunction with his experimentations, it fed into the maturation of his work. And as his visual language evolved, it became even more sophisticated.  In 1991, Chu moved to a new studio in Vitry-sur-Seine, which was located near the Seine River on the outskirts of Paris. With a spacious and bright new space to paint, Chu was able to challenge himself with increasing the size of his canvases. That same year, Chu took a trip to Venice, Italy, where he thoroughly studied the colours and shadows characteristic of Venetian paintings. With this backdrop, a series of new works was born, including the present work, Songe de l'aube.




    Chu Teh-Chun, Le 15 Mai 1985, 1985
    Sold by Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 9 October 2021 for HK$ 11,791,000 Premium

    At first glance, the present painting inherits the ivory tones of the artist’s celebrated Snow Scene series created in the 1980s, manifesting a quiet, ethereal, and peaceful atmosphere. Contrastingly, however, Chu took great notice of the 1991 Gulf crisis in the Middle East, which when it came to an end, signified the Persian Gulf War was over. With this influence feeding into his work, Chu hoped to convey the universal value of mankind through his artistic creations, of hope and a vision for peace – and the will and determination to recover from times of disruption. The present work, Songe de l'aube is the representation of his Aurora series which delved into these themes, hinting at the artist's creative style which he continued to explore for another decade, metaphorically through the emphasis he placed on the relationship between colour and shadow.


    Huai-su, Autobiography, 777
    Collection of National Palace Museum, Taipei

    The white tone across the present work lulls the viewer into a calming tranquility – a main theme evoked by the composition.  A closer look reveals the artist's meticulous approach, of bold and rich colours with more than 20 hues, paired with various gradations of brightness and contrast that result in a multitude of magnificent color variations. Chu’s precise brush and ink lines - and even his ability to control blocks of colour - are perfectly presented in Songe de l'aube. Born into a family of scholars, Chu had always been fascinated by traditional Chinese ink painting since he was a young child. He then trained under the tutelage of Lin Fengmian, the principal of Hangzhou National College of Art, who was a master of calligraphy and painting. Afterwards, Chu travelled to France, wishing to push his practice even more by becoming familiar with Western approaches. Though Chu can be considered in respect to other artist who fused their formal training with their generational background, his unique approach undoubtedly sets him apart.


     Cy Twombly, Leda and the Swan, 1962
    Collection of Museum of Modern Art, New York 

    The artist employs ink and wash execution methods to apply oil paints to the present work, resulting in a piece that blends Western painting styles with the light charm and agility of Eastern ink painting. This was an important feature of Chu’s work from this period. By smoothing out the otherwise intense and heavy brushstrokes, he delicately intermixes different colours together, merging abstract blocks of colour seen in Western art with the characteristics of Chinese landscape brushwork, fusing into a painting language that is unique to Chu. For example, traditional Chinese ink artists seldom used light green, pink, bright yellow, bright purple, colourful blue, or other such hues in such a bold manner, as, if you are not careful, it is easy for the work to look unbalanced and gaudy. Chu was not like that, however, as with his brushwork, colours poetically blend like sounds of different musical notes, building together to form a ‘dawn of dreams’ (Songe de l'aube). Like a beautiful new world emerging from a ‘snow scape’, the composition suddenly comes to life before the viewers’ eyes.



    Chu Teh-Chun, Vertige Neigeux (Snowy Vertigo), 1990-1991
    Sold by Christie’s Hong Kong, 16 November 2016 for: HK$91,820,000 Premium


    In 1991, when he created Songe de l'aube, Chu Teh-Chun had already entered his 70s. The peaceful, far-reaching, calm and tranquil state constructed from light, shadow, colour, and treatment of space in the present work, is a true reflection of the artist’s matured approach he had refined over many years, as well as his yearning for idealism. The artist is the painting, and painting is the artist, and the spirit of Chu Teh-Chun is marvelously engraved into the present work.


    • Condition Report

    • Description

      View our Conditions of Sale.

    • Provenance

      Private Collection, Europe (acquired directly from the artist in 1992)
      Private Collection, Asia
      Private Collection, Asia
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Literature

      Artist Publishing Co., ed., Chu Teh-Chun, Taipei, 2007, pl. 72, p. 231 (illustrated)


Songe de l'aube

signed and dated 'CHU TEH-CHUN. [in Chinese and Pinyin] 91.' lower right; further signed, titled, and dated '"SONGE dE L'AUBE" CHU TEH-CHUN [in Pinyin and Chinese] 1991.' on the reverse
oil on canvas
200 x 200 cm. (78 3/4 x 78 3/4 in.)
Painted in 1991, 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$9,500,000 - 12,000,000 

Place Advance Bid
Contact Specialist

Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Evening Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art
+852 2318 2026
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 30 November 2021