Chu Teh-Chun - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Sunday, November 28, 2021 | Phillips

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  • “His bold lines are like downpours, while his thin ones are like whispers” — Wu GuanzhongChinese-French painter Chu Teh-Chun was one of the celebrated ‘Three Musketeers’ of Chinese modernism, whose inventive and influential practices made them famous throughout the East and West. Alongside friends and former schoolmates Zao Wou-Ki and Wu Guanzhong, Chu became known for a singular style that unified traditional Chinese painting and Western abstract expressionism.


    Executed after decades of honing his expressive powers, Poetic Fusion channels a sublime, spiritual energy and a poetic complexity of feeling. Over the years Chu had developed a captivating style of abstract landscape painting, with expressive brushwork and an intense palette giving rise to a new dynamic interplay of harmony and energy in his works. The dreamy blue expanse echoes the fateful journey by boat which brought Chu to France in 1955, who was drawn westwards by a fascination with the art of the French Impressionist masters Monet, Cézanne and Renoir.


    An extremely gifted realist painter, Chu made the astonishing decision to reject figurative painting and start anew following his visit to Nicolas de Staël’s retrospective in Paris in 1956. Encountering de Staël’s highly abstract landscape paintings presented Chu with an unexpected way of bridging the artistic cultures of China and the West. 

    Nicolas de Staël, Mediterranean Landscape, 1953
    Collection of the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
    © Nicolas de Staël Estate/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

     “Previously, I was an objective painter, but now I am no longer interested in this way of painting, because after having begun to study abstract painting, I profoundly and obviously felt the freedom of expression to which it testifies.” — Chu Teh-Chun

    Chu Teh-Chun believed poetry and painting followed ‘the same rules and rhythms’, and a distinctly lyrical quality pervades Poetic Fusion. The union of abstraction, calligraphy and poetry in Chu’s work points towards China’s unique intellectual heritage, in particular the Song Dynasty artists Su Shi, an acclaimed poet-painter who saw art as an outward expression of the artist’s interior experience, and Mi Fu, who pioneered the ‘splashed ink’ technique using moist washes and textured strokes to evoke the region’s misty and rainy landscapes (see for example Pavilion of Rising Clouds which is attributed to him).


    Poetic Fusion also evokes memories of Chu’s 1955 journey where he crossed paths with his future wife Ching Chao and encountered for the first time the exotic lands of Cairo, Djibouti, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. A luminous landscape breaks through the stillness, the deep indigo cliffs thrown into sharp relief. Dramatic chiaroscuro and the interplay of light and shadow gave Chu’s works a stirring gravity and depth unmatched by his artistic peers in the East or West, a motif Chu developed throughout the 1970s following his encounter with Rembrandt’s strikingly-lit oil paintings in the Netherlands.



    Detail of the present lot


    In recognition of his contribution to painting, Chu was inducted as a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1997, the first Chinese-born person to be honoured in this way. His paintings are in the permanent collections of more than 50 museums around the world, including the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris; Musée Cernuschi; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgium; Shanghai Opera House, Shanghai; National Museum of History, Taipei; and Taipei Fine Art Museum, Taiwan.



    Translated from Pierre Cabanne, Chu Teh-chun, les Chemins de l’abstraction, Paris, 2013, n.p.

    • Provenance

      Dimensions Art Center, Taipei (acquired directly from the artist)
      Impressions Art Gallery, Taipei
      Private Collection, Asia
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Literature

      Impressions Art Gallery, Impressions Classics IX Chu Teh-Chun, Taipei, 2005, p. 82 (illustrated)


Fuision Poétique (Poetic Fusion)

signed and dated ‘CHU TEH-CHUN [in Chinese and Pinyin] 95’ lower right; signed, titled and dated ‘"Fuision poétique" 1995 CHU TEH-CHUN [in Pinyin and Chinese]’ on the reverse
oil on canvas
60.5 x 73 cm. (23 7/8 x 28 3/4 in.)
Painted in 1995, 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.)

Full Cataloguing

HK$1,000,000 - 1,500,000 

Sold for HK$1,638,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027

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

Hong Kong Auction 29 November 2021