• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2603

    Chinese 20th Century Art (Evening Sale)

    24 May 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 212


    Price Realised  


    (Born in 1938)
    Taiji Series - Enter Taiji
    signed and dated 'Ju Ming; 90' in Chinese (bottom)
    wood sculpture
    48.3 x 53.3 x 33 cm. (19 x 21 x 13 in.)
    Executed in 1990

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    The Dao is in nature, to which the heart must return. Ju Ming's believes that only art derived from nature possesses true beauty. During the creative process, this embodiment of the natural extends to the selection of themes, use of materials, and the processes and methods of creation itself. Ju Ming's creations encompass the character of Chinese gardens and the eastern philosophical ideal of harmony between heaven and earth, manifesting the ultimate state of abstract beauty, without form, in his art. Since the 20th Century, the main thrust of Chinese contemporary sculpture has been to find a source for an independent and new creativity in the contemporary and traditional culture of China.

    In this 'Enter Taiji' work (Lot 212), we find the posterity and grace of the Taiji form poignantly captured through Ju Ming's skillful wood carving. We envision a Taiji practitioner captured in a meditative stance, breathing through the forms and motions of Taiji with an effortless elegance. Ju Ming's Taiji subjects convey the sense of movement and grace, yet they are somehow inhuman, godlike and eternal. The treatment of the wood - predominantly left in it's natural form - is consistent with the harmonious nature of Taiji, and indeed with Ju Ming's own philosophies. Tai Chi also has, particularly amongst eastern practitioners, a long connection with the I Ching system of divination. There are associations between the 8 basic I Ching trigrams plus the five elements of Chinese alchemy (metal, wood, fire, water and earth) with the thirteen basic postures of Tai Chi created by Chang San-feng. The single figures in Ju Ming's Taiji series embody a meditative, self-contained energy force, or 'qi'. According to Zhang Sanfeng, the 13th Century Daoist, "When one part of the body moves the body must be light and agile and be connected together. The internal energy must be full and energized and the spirit must be contained within. There should be no defects, no deficiencies or excess, and no discontinuities. The root is in the feet, issued into the legs, controlled by the waist, and manifested in the hands and fingers. From the feet to the legs and to the waist, it must be completed in one breath."(fig.1)

    In the process of producing the Taiji Series, Ju Ming progresses from carving forms to forsaking forms. The classic appeal of camphor wood or bronze helps to elevate one to a deep and quiet philosophical realm. During the initial stage of producing the Taiji Series in wood, Ju employs the basic methods of chiseling and hacking in his carving. Gradually, he begins to use a steel saw to cut the material before using his hands to break the wood apart, or an axe to cut along the natural grain of the material. The material is not only a medium for carving, but was also transformed to become part of the subject matter. The martial arts of China have been closely linked with its art since ancient times because both seek a similar aesthetic standard, which might be called "a harmonious manner." Traditional Chinese calligraphy laid stress on controlled patterns with balance and symmetry, and on brushwork, unifying different aspects of characters, and composition. The character should evolve naturally as ink is applied, yet the brush should be wielded with strength and firmness, and one should sense the ink was applied incisively. The viewer should sense beauty in the flow of the calligraphy and its interrelated parts, in the rhythmic alternation of dark and light, and in its unified appearance, and should be able to feel its vitality. Taiji, in a similar way, emphasizes energy, breath, and spirit. As an example, Tang period calligrapher Sun Guoting pointed out that calligraphy should "have a controlled bearing !K and derive energy from stern strength." Taiji theory parallels Sun's ideas, as Taiji strives for "concentrated energy on the inside, calm and ease on the outside." Ju Ming speaks of "outer achievement through inner quality," which he further explains, in art, means that "in a work that is harmonious and alive, the texture of each part should flow in a way that serve's the work's inner energy and sense of motion, in order to present an overall shape that has a rhythm of the most natural and understandable kind. This is the kind of vitality that is transmitted when the inner qualities achieve outer effects." The conceptions that shape and inform Ju Mings's sculptures are derived from the essence of both visual art and martial arts. Ju Ming believes that when the spiritual practice of art is carried out, the appropriate artistic vocabulary will naturally emerge. (fig.2)


    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner