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  • Created in 1979, Composition is a triptych displayed from right to left as though reflecting the continuity of time. Together, these pieces show a magnificent world created by Chu Teh-Chun, while simultaneously expressing the ultimate proposition of art: an exploration of time and space. Each piece of the triptych bears the artist's signature on the lower right corner of the canvas, implying that each piece can also stand alone as an independent work, which is an extremely rare arrangement.


    Composition is an abstract painting, in which Chu Teh-Chun presents his conception of Chinese landscape through oil paintings, typical of his works, and the composition of this triptych echoes the distant scenery of a Chinese landscape. The title of the work itself also reveals their deep influence. From Composition to Primordial World, Clearing, Mid-winter, Renewal of the Earth, and other works reveal the spirit of Chu’s Eastern-style landscapes.



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    Chu Teh-Chun, Harmonie hivernale, oil on canvas (triptych), 1986
    Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 18 April 2021, Sold for HK$229,568,000


    Starting from Hangzhou National College of Art where the artist first began his journey, Chu Teh-Chun's abstract paintings were devoid of figurative forms of mountains, rivers, rocks and trees, yet one can tell from his oeuvre that the artist understands the natural rhythms of the world. Chu's pieces contain the lingering charm of surrounding rocks and mountains, the rising of the sun and the shrouding clouds. As a lover of poetry and an accomplished calligrapher, Chu Teh-Chun creates his paintings with poetic and picturesque images in the same context as Chinese landscapes, the key to the artist’s increasing global recognition and allure. Though his journey went from East to West, it was through his creations that the artist realised his core values and eventually returned to the East.



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    Chu Teh-Chun, Les éléments confédérés, oil on canvas (pentaptych), 2013
    Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 8 July 2020, Sold for HK$98, 000,000  


    Composition catches the viewer’s eyes with its fiery red colour as the focus of the work. Coupled with the light source and light-dark contrast, they show the pulse of time. The artist’s profound skill in the study of light can also be shown in this work. In 1969, Chu visited the exhibition commemorating the 300th anniversary of Rembrandt's death at the Amsterdam Art Museum and was greatly inspired by the great selection of works by the artist. Chu even once stated that Rembrandt is the artist that influenced him the most. Known for his use and representation of light, Rembrandt often created paintings with a strong light on the subject across a dark background and excelled in using light to create a sense of mystery. Inspired by Rembrandt, Chu began to use light as a visual focus in his paintings. From 1969 to 1979, after a decade of exploration, Chu created his own style of probing light and space. Composition is one of those works created as a result of this exploration. The iconic colour originally used in the 60s and 70s are now lighter and more flexible, as the artist began using more turpentine to make the paint easier to spread to create flowing and even blooming effects. By manipulating layers of overlapping colour blocks and natural brushstrokes, Chu mastered his own style, and his paintings became known for their flowing rhythm.



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    Hsia Kuei, Remote View of Streams and Hills, painted in Song dynasty (detail)
    Collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei


    In Composition, Chu no longer shows light pointed in a single direction, but reflecting and refracting across multiple directions. The colour and saturation of the painting is more refined, creating a dynamic sense of a non-static image; Chu's signature line strokes no longer bear an obvious backbone of ink, but blend imperceptibly into the colourful land.


    The year 1979 can also be seen as the beginning of a new era in Chu Teh-Chun's artistic creation. While in Paris, he met with Lin Fengmian and Liu Kaiqu, teachers from the Hangzhou National College of Art after a lapse of more than 30 years. From his works, it can be seen that the artist’s mind broadened since the late 1970s, and his abstract works moved onward to a new stage.



    Hsia Kuei, A Thousand Li of River and Mountains, painted in Song dynasty (detail)
    Collection of The Palace Museum, Beijing 


    • Condition Report

    • Description

      View our Conditions of Sale.

    • Provenance

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

Property from a Distinguished Private Asian Collection



each signed 'CHU TEH-CHUN. [in Chinese and Pinyin]' lower right; further signed, titled and dated '"Composition" CHU TEH-CHUN [in Pinyin and Chinese] 1979' on the reverse
oil on canvas, triptych
each 81 x 65 cm. (31 7/8 x 25 5/8 in.)
overall 81 x 195 cm. (31 7/8 x 76 3/4 in.)

Painted in 1979, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist and 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$8,000,000 - 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