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    Sale 2706

    Chinese 20th Century Art (Day Sale)

    25 May 2009, Hong Kong

  • Lot 949


    Price Realised  


    (ZHU MING, b. 1938)
    Taichi Series - Golden Rooster Standing
    signed in Chinese; dated '91' (lower back)
    wood sculpture
    50 x 32 x 50.5 cm. (19 1/2 x 12 1/2 x 19 3/4 in.)
    Executed in 1991

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    The Taichi series by Ju Ming consists of important creations which have solidified Ju Ming's status in the Asian art community. This series exemplifies Ju's departure from set themes and restrictions set by specific materials to enter a style of pure spiritualism that marks and establishes the maturity of his modern sculptures. The journey of creative exploration leading to Ju Ming's Taichi series is fascinating and began with his early childhood indulgence in sculptural art. At the age of fifteen he became an apprentice, practicing the swift cut technique and proficient craftsmanship. Artistic creation invariably requires a complement of artistry and philosophy to create works embodied with cultural sentiments and profound implications. This is embodied in Ju's swift cut technique which facilitates his sculptural style exhibiting dynamism, mass and weight. Learning from Yu Yu Yang, he further realizes that besides artistry, the importance of cultural substance, particularly the fusion of a Chinese affluent cultural spirit in creating his works:

    "The Academic School normally rejects tradition, yet Mr Yang told me not to underestimate Chinese spirit. Though I was learning modern sculpture, I follow his instruction to learn ink painting, poem and couplets writing and calligraphy so as to be well-equipped with Chinese culture."

    Ju has a profound understanding of Chinese cultural spirit; as cultural thinking further promotes and facilitates the flow of creative ideas. Ju, since the seventies, opened up a much broader artistic realm and created a series of more expressive, massive and spirit-oriented works, facilitated by his practice of Tai Chi and a deeper understanding of Chinese traditional philosophical meanings and philosophy of health preservation. His Taichi sculptures expresses the essence of Chinese cultural spirit such as like "yin yang (positive and negative forces)", "zaoxing (form)", "zhen ti yi yuan (union)". Hence, Taichi series can said to represent the artist's refined expression and careful contemplation of Chinese cultural thinking and spirit.

    In applying the harmony and conformity with substance and energy of the unique Chinese spirit into his Taichi series, Ju demonstrates a streamlined, natural and dynamic sculptural style whereby "speed" replaces "fixed thinking patterns" and "self-denial" replaces "programming": When I start to carve, changes begin and continue through the first and second cuts, and just before my mind is able to intervene, the third cut comes, blocking the gap in it, and one more cut.Thus throughout the process of cutting, my mind simply follows the actions of my hand. Even though my mind is always aware of my actions, my cuts are going ahead, and at that very moment, it is not a process of the mind. The mind eventually gives up on interjecting any ideas as only one very deep selfless process is able to proceed; my wisdom and practiced instincts however never fail to follow as I continue to carve my works. Comprising a sense of speed, bold expression and selflessness, Cock Standing (Lot 949) Ju's signature sculptural style is revealed; the work has a clean form but is magnificent. At waist height is an astonishingly large cutting mark that vividly models the energy and sense of speed of a side kick from the right leg. The overall piece of work while simply composed of mere several giant sculptural marks of carves, is lively and complex in creation. By focusing on sculpting the lower body and keeping the hands and shoulders of the upper body in a comparatively static and weighty manner, a manner of balance and tension emerges; a seemingly intrinsic momentum of repose and restrain is carried back and forth. Armed with the concept of "speed" and "intuition", Ju's sculpture shows a removal from rational thinking, exhibiting a constant movement of creative intuition. Hence, Ju has escalated sculptural chopping, hacking, peeling and splitting to the levels and sentiments of the more expressive form found in literati's calligraphy and painting. He asserted that sculptural art is not merely craftsmanship but also, like calligraphy and painting, is adeptly capable of conveying profoundly artistic values and the essence of Chinese culture.

    Works of the Taichi series are required to comply with the postures and express the spiritual beauty of ease found in Tai Chi, while simultaneously be endowed with its robust and masculine strength. How does Ju sculpt the solid materials to express those three characteristics with such few swift giant cuts? Taichi Series (Lot 950) is an illustrative example of these qualities. Mastering the overall conception of form, Ju presents the sculpture in a side kick movement. With a few extremely clean marks of chopping, hacking, peeling and splitting of the upper body, he emphatically expresses a sense of movement, well-preparedness and weight. Ju forgoes a want for detail, caring not to depict traditional long sleeves or buttons of the figure's attire and instead seizes the fundamentals of movement; its clean, swift stances of one in motion, provides the piece with synchronized movement and grounding. As with man's interaction with nature, the movements Taichi evokes an energy that encapsulates man's unfathomable spiritual and physical tenacity. Lot 950 has no specific indication of which Tai Chi posture is depicted, Ju's works of Tai Chi are not factual representation of Tai Chi postures; instead, with his proficiency in gestures and understanding of changes and movements among different postures, they are the realization of the latent force and eternal changes. He described that "[I] gradually start having my own ideas, not only of this pose or that, but of the change from one pose to another".

    The Taichi sculptures by Ju depict diverse movements, expressing a delicate balance between movement and immobility. Ju once interpreted the real meaning of Taichi: "Taichi has one main characteristic which is to not counteract or lose. When an opposition produces a punch, by not resisting his energy, it 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."
    The focus of Taichi - before fighting, catch a glimpse under the elbow (Lot 951) is centered on the lifted leg. It is composed of modestly sculpted bronze panels which express a sense of weight, composure and stable energy. The slightly bending body and hands and the gradually rising shoulders is filled with energetic momentum, well-prepared for action yet still carries the lightness of a cloud. The union of robustness and softness expresses a noble spirit, balanced in yin and yang, tension and harmony.


    Private Collection, Asia