• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2630

    Chinese 20th Century Art (Day Sale)

    1 December 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 623


    Price Realised  


    (Born in 1938)
    Taichi Series - Single Whip
    signed, dated and editioned 'Ju Ming; 5/10; 98' in Chinese (lower back) granite, stain of stone sculpture
    71 x 34 x 53 cm. (28 x 13 1/4 x 20 3/4 in.)
    edition 5/10
    Executed in 1998

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    The Taichi series by Ju Ming are important creations which have marked his status as a prominent figure in the Chinese 20th Art. This series acts as a symbol of Ju's breakaway from restricted themes and materials, allowing him to enter into a type of pure spiritualism that marked and established the maturity of Ju's modern sculptures.
    Exploring the creative process of his Taichi series from his exhibition debut in 1976 till the present, his transformations have experienced 20 years of notable change. The Taichi series first had its exhibition debut in State Historic Museum, named as Kung Fu Series, and the artist intended to explore broader artistic fields to expound on themes other than traditional folk, realism and issues of morality. As a practitioner of Taichi, Ju realized the deeper implications this practice had towards traditional Chinese philosophy and matters of one's wellbeing. Ju expressed the details of the spirits in the Chinese culture such as "Yin-Yang", "Shaping", "Coherent breathe" and "Integration of one" in his Taichi sculptures. Taichi works executed post 1976 saw a clear understanding of the rhythm and life imbued within this craft, and further explored possible methods to improve what Ju believed to be overly meticulous and calculated steps within the practice. At the same time Ju's travels around Europe and his encounters with the huge stone architecture of ancient Rome gave Ju much inspiration in creating works with clean contours and feelings of sublime monumentality. His creations since 1980s have been more flexible and free. The carving work of Taichi Series - Single Whip (Lot 623) which appears as his earliest motif and remains consistent for an extensive period of time can best represent the evolution of creations by Ju during this period. The work abandons the expression of details and with few very simple cuts and cracks, in focus, represents a dynamic and weighty feel. Ju forgoes the want for detail, caring not to depict traditional long sleeves or buttons and instead grasps the fundamentals of ones movement, the clean, swift stances of one in motion, providing the piece with simultaneous movement and grounding. As with man's interaction with nature, the movements of Taichi create an energy that encapsulates man's unfathomable spiritual and physical tenacity.

    The Taichi sculptures by Ju depict different movements, but simultaneously express a delicate balance between movement and non movement. Ju once interpreted the real meaning of Taichi, "Taichi has one biggest characteristic, which is not to counteract or lose. When an opposition produces a punch, by not resisting his energy is naturally eliminated. At the same time, if he wishes to escape, I shall not allow him to; I will not let him succeed in his wish. If one practices to this level, he is a master." Taking two works (Lot 628 and 626), both figures place central weight upon their legs comprised of bronze blocks with few carvings, granting the whole sculpture a composed and stable force. The slightly inclined body and two upward motioned hands connect to the gradual elevation of two shoulders, giving these works a dynamic force and bearing them with life. The work not only is as stable as Taishan Mountain, but also as soft as floating clouds. In the integration of rigidity and softness, it represents a force of justice. What is contained is a variant of the Taichi concept of balanced Yin and Yang which coexist, resist, supplement and bear each other. The Taichi series imitates the various forms and movements in Taichi, complying with the natural rhythm of the body, bringing the movements of meridians and pulses, and its contents of generation in dynamic and static movements and integration of both manners reflect the operative law of nature. When practicing Taichi, it is as if one wishes to combine one's body with the universe to attain a universal order. Its conceptions, practical operations all represent profound Chinese cultural elements and spirits. With modern-sense sculpting media and techniques, Taichi is reinterpreted from traditional Chinese cultural elements such as Taichi and Yin-Yang to help establish Ju's artistic status and vital role in integrating the ancient with the modern in contemporary Chinese arts.

    The early stages of the Taichi series were mainly comprised of single pieces; through one's body positioning one could express the true force of Taichi. The core meaning of Taichi revolves around Yin and Yang, opposed but integrated, coexisting to multiply infinitely and give life to the world. Beginning is the 1980s, Ju created two-character fighting sculptures, opening a new chapter in his Taichi series. This
    series has become popular among collectors who sense the duality of Taichi. Taichi Series - Advancing Step Barricase (Lot 625) and Taichi Series - Flying Boxers Bronze (Lot 624) respectively represent two fighting forms possessing both a quietude and dynamism. Differing from the introspective and contemplative single-character sculpture, the two characters produce increased movement, spiritual growth and energy of each other by applying force and resistance. Through the proliferation of these works grew the series title Taichi Arch (Lot 627). The arched shape is characteristically more rounded in outline, which may less accurately depict human form, but nonetheless preserves and harnesses a dynamic energy, one further enhanced by a rhythm that is coherent to the spiritual charm of Taichi.
    The positive application of negative space upon sculpture is harnessed to the full, whereby the open spaces are able to create positive energy. The void found in the Taichi Series - Single Whip (Lot 623) offers the audience space to examine their inner feelings, while the space preserved in the two fighting figures in Taichi Series - Flying Boxers Bronze (Lot 624) represent concepts of coexistence and resistance through the gentle and flexible jumps of the attacker who skillfully unloads the force by fingers and legs of the defender. The forces of attack and defense all roll in the arced spaces and are eliminated in a rolling, thus leading to new movements.
    Since the 1980s, the wood-carved Taichi series laid a foundation of Ju to begin exploring a carving media alternative to wood. Bronze and stone blocks were frequently used as the medium for Taichi sculptures, to represent the more vigorous and grand huge sculptures and unsophisticated and indistinct feelings. A changed medium required different techniques, and techniques similarly changed thinking patterns. Unlike wood, the modern stone medium is a weighty block without life, and must dialogue with the wood prototype to avoid being controlled by the fixed mental processes which emerge before sawing the material which ultimately results in works of minor differences and lack of personality. Because of this, Ju developed a method of creation of "Speed" to replace "Fixed thinking pattern" and "Selfdenial" replacing "Program": "After starting to carve, the changes begin and follow up with the first and second cuts, and just before my mind is right to intervene, the third cut comes, blocking the gap in it, and one more cut...Thus, cutting all the way, and changing all the way, with my skills, it goes along. Even if my mind always follows, my cuts are going ahead, and at this moment, it has not been the mind's business, and the mind will be given up eventually, and any ideas cannot intervene, and only one very deep sense of self is left to proceed, and with my wisdom and instincts practiced in ordinary time, I continuously form the work." Lot 628 can best represent this speedy and rough carving style. The obvious big cut on the waist vividly represents the vigor and speed of the right leg stepping forward. The whole piece of work seems to only have few large cuts, but it is profoundly vivid and visualized. Concentrating the carving traces on the lower part and the two hands and shoulders on the upper part, preserve the relatively static and thick weight; representing a flat punch and pull, an internal kinetic energy which looks forward but backward, that is convergent yet open. Directed by this "Speed" and "Instinct" creation idea, the carving operation can break away the rational thinking pattern and represents an ongoing dynamic trend and creative instinct. Ju also therefore elevates the cutting operation of the carving onto a grand portrait level and rhyme in the scholar paintings and calligraphy, affirming that carving art is not only just a craftsman work, but also, like painting and calligraphy, can represent the profound artistic significances and details of the Chinese culture.


    Ipreciation, Singapore
    Private Collection, United Kingdom

    Saleroom Notice

    Please kindly note that Lot 623 is granite, stain of stone sculpture, not stone sculpture as stated in the catalogue.