• Chinese 20th Century Art (Day  auction at Christies

    Sale 2725

    Chinese 20th Century Art (Day Sale)

    30 November 2009, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1360


    Price Realised  


    (ZHU DEQUN, B. 1920)
    Composition No. 168
    signed in Chinese; signed 'CHU TEH-CHUN' in Pinyin; dated '64' (lower left); signed in Chinese; signed 'Chu Teh-chun' in Pinyin; dated and inscribed '1964; No. 168' (on the reverse)
    oil on canvas
    72 x 99.8 cm. (28 3/8 x 39 3/8 in.)
    Painted in 1964

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    Composition No. 168 (Lot 1360), based entirely on tones of burnt umber, is a rarity in the oeuvre of an artist who is as well known for color as Chu Teh-Chun, but precisely for this reason it allows us to sense all the more easily the strong feeling of Chinese landscape implicit within this monotone palette. The primary color palette of traditional Chinese ink-wash paintings was centered on black; as Tang Dynasty artist and poet Wang Wei said, pointing out ink's central importance in the Chinese system of aesthetics, "In the Tao of painting, ink-wash surpasses all; it begins from the essence of nature and completes the work of creation." Many generations of painters have drawn upon the combination and structuring of ink and color for their most basic elements and motifs, which allowed them to convey the strongest impressions with the smallest means in terms of color. Oil pigments, under Chu Teh-Chun's brush, immediately took on a new character, losing their thick viscosity and gaining a new fluidity, along with the weightiness of charcoal black ink applied with a dry brush. Here, the artist uses an ink-wash type of effect with a single oil pigment to create the "six colors" of black, white, thick, thin, dry, and wet, and in his seemingly bold sweeps of the brush he utilizes the simplicity of deep inky color with great precision. The result is a visual organization that creates rich, fine layering and a clear distinction between foreground, middle distance, and background, building a sense of space and depth in the picture space. This sense of limitless space in a canvas of smaller dimensions may be what Sung writer Fan Zhongyan meant when he said, in his essay "On Yueyang Tower," "it holds the mountain ranges in the distance and swallows the waters of the Yangtze. Vast and mighty, it seems virtually boundlessK"


    Private Collection, Asia


    Paris, France, Galerie de l'Université de Paris, Solo Exhibition of Chu Teh-Chun, 1965.