At the end of the 1980s, the then nearly 70 year old Chu Teh-chun has reached the apex of his painting career, as seen with the grand and fluid brush strokes in his 1988 painting, Estuaire (Lot 20). His art has transcended to another level, breaking away from the representation of natural landscapes to achieve the ideal impressionistic state. Wu Guanzhong places emphasis on extracting the object's essence by "understanding the aesthetics of the object and analyzing to gain control of constructing the aesthetical form". Estuaire by Chu is infused with subtle moving lights and shadows create dramatic contrast between the brightness and darkness. Delicate and rich layers are compiled by the artist's magnificent brush strokes, lines, and color-washes. The painting is composed by brushstrokes of intricate structure, and shows Chu's solid foundation in calligraphy. The extensive and profound sense of space and distance is inspired by the "flat distance composition" used in traditional ink-brush paintings, which gives the viewer a feeling of looking out into the distance of an expansive flat horizon.
In 1970, Chu Teh-chun was profoundly influenced by the 300-year retrospective exhibition of Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. He was inspired by the artist's use of light and was also enlightened by the subject matter of his works. Chu's admiration for Rembrandt is seen in his use of light in this painting. Additionally, he also discovered the use of light embodies the two fundamental principles in the Chinese traditional view of the universe: yin and yang and light and dark. Estuaire shows Chu's in-depth play of "interweaving light", which has resulted in a painting that is exquisite and free-flowing.
Estuaire has forgone intricate depictions of the landscape, and with flowing forms and colors, it captures the evolving river view. Different from Chinese paintings' two-dimensional approach with waterscapes, the Estuaire's impressionistic ink-like brushwork combined with translucent colors capture the ethereal ambiance of the river view, with a dynamic beauty and profound spatiality created for the moving stream. The lines and brushstrokes project genuine emotions, and although the style seems to be inspired by the Western Abstract Impressionism, the rich Chinese essence is clearly visible in the painting. Chu is well aware that the biggest challenge lies in transitioning a "fantasy" by recreating a "perception", because this can only be done through a highly meticulous integration of time, space, inspiration, and exceptional skill.
Chu once said, "Colours and lines in my paintings are never the results of accidents. They have come to reach a mutual goal harmoniously, which is to invigorate light and call upon the image and rhythm." An important component in Chu's paintings lies in the lines, which has its origin in traditional Chinese culture. Chu began learning calligraphy at a young age and acquired a solid foundation for Chinese painting at the Hangzhou Academy of Arts. During his time in France, he often created Chinese paintings and calligraphies, but was unable to find appropriate Xuan paper (rice paper). In 1966, he discovered that despite being thin, the wrapping paper used by his local butcher was highly absorbent. He then made a large purchase of that paper and began to produce calligraphies again. The reason that he practiced calligraphy was to acquire a better tool for art, with the techniques applied in paintings and forming tight connections to his art. Estuaire shows Chu's incorporation of calligraphy in oil painting, with the ethereal and reserved qualities found in Chinese culture, and this distinctive style is what makes his abstract art unique amongst the many Western abstract artists.
Spiritually, the viewer is able to experience an internal landscape reconstructed by the artist, after years of reflection and deliberation. The piece surpasses the restrictions of space-time and showcases the artist's emotional sentiments, which echoes with the concept proposed by the Tang dynasty artist, Wang Wei, "Landscape is the epitome on account of mother nature". Since the ancient times, Chinese literati painters have always followed the tradition of painting outdoors, with the senses in sync with nature and internalized through the experience of appreciating the tangible landscapes. The experience is then elevated into intangible enlightenments and meditations and expressed freely on the restricted piece of paper. Chu's Estuaire is a recreation of such landscape derived from his mental imagery, and is closely connected to the Chinese literati philosophy and spirit, with the painting returning to nature yet breaking free from the restrictions confined by the artistic format dictated by natural realism. After seeing paintings by Chu, French art critic, Pierre Cabanne, commented by saying that, "real painting results from memory."