Audio (English): Taichi Series - Single Whip
Audio (Chinese): Taichi Series - Single Whip
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(ZHU MING, B. 1938)
Taichi Series - Single Whip
signed in Chinese; numbered '1/20' (engraved on lower back)
bronze sculpture
97 x 55 x 65 cm. (38 1/8 x 21 5/8 x 25 5/8 in.)
edition 1/20
The Tsui Museum of Art, Hong Kong, China
Singapore Art Museum, Ju Ming, Singapore, 2004 (different edition illustrated, p. 43).
Guangxi Fine Arts Publishing house, Ju Ming Taichi Sculpture, Guangxi, China, 2006 (different edition illustrated, p. 30).

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Felix Yip
Felix Yip

Lot Essay

Ju Ming's sculptures are richly steeped in his personal history and result in beautiful three-dimensional forms of his memory and even the traditions of traditional Chinese art forms. Having grown up in a rural village in Taiwan tending to livestock and later working as an apprentice at a monastary for several years, Ju Ming's career began carving meticulous and regimented sculptures of religious subjects. In the 1970s, with the beginning of his practice of Taichi, Ju Ming's sculptures began to transform into wondrous figures that embodied spirit and movement attributed to the practice of Taichi itself.

Ju Ming made his d?but solo exhibition at the National Museum of History in 1976. The public showing of Taichi Series, then named Kungfu, received widespread acclaim from critics and collectors. The human body forms of the Taichi series show the same meticulous chiseling that can be found in his earlier Nativist Series. This sale we present two wooden Taichi Series-Turn Stomp (Lot 1122) and Taichi Series-Single Whip (Lot 1103) are carved in the original medium of this series. The natural scars, texture, knots and scratches of the wood lend itself to the dynamically shifting energy of each figure and equally serve as a testament to the natural environment. As Ju Ming himself stated "From a superficial perspective, the practice of Tai Chi Chuan involves the imitation of three kinds of natural elements: animals, plants nad natural phenomena. These natural elements never change their form; they exist in a pure natural state, never artificial, hypocritical, or embellished in any way. Man, on the other hand, has become so far estranged from nature that he is now the only organism that can be considered unnatural. By imitating nature through the practice of Tai Chi, though, man can experience anew his original and proper position as a part of nature." Such principles of Taichi are interlaced in the sculptures' dynamic and static movements; the void coexists with its existence just as practitioners of Taichi connect with Nature. Here, as though he is the carved statue; Ju Ming allows the natural medium of the wood to serve as a tool to extract the essence of Taichi, symbolizing a return to nature and its hidden energy.

The Taichi series extends and overlaps with his later Living World series and comes in the form of wood, bronze and stone. The stone carved Taichi Series-Single Whip (Lot 1121) is a rare in its similarity to bronze works only not cast, and carved like his wooden sculptures. While he has departed from woodwork, Ju preserves the rustic texture of his materials and traces of his own labour in carving its surface, thus remaining truthful to the medium. This is also witnessed in the paired figures of Taichi Series- Sparring (Lot 1123 and 1102) and Taichi Series (1213) where the viewer becomes the spectator to the action rather than a partner. Between each pair there is a subtle movement in the air as one pushes, pulls and retracts in response to his opponent and thus always are in coexistence with one another.

Even in Guanyin (Lot 1190) and Zhong Kui (Lot 1189) of 1978 and 1988 respectively, impressions of his apprenticeship and early Nativist series is reflected in the traditional subject. Yet the direction and progression of his carvings is distinct. In Guanyin, the delicate facial features and flowing robes are not lost in the hard bronze surface. Rather, in the multitude of knife carves, the softness of her garments extend into her extended fingers. In Zhong Kui of the 1980s, the rough slices through the bronze echo the spiritual rhythm and momentum of the taichi practice. Ju simplified the images' details using his bold and dynamic cuts, disposing of formal details, and thereby creating an even livelier and more free form of expression. Since the late 1980's, Ju Ming has explored his Living World Series, a new development with a more narrative-oriented approach. Living World Series-Mother and Son (Lot 1191) reveals Ju's distinguished and insightful perception of the secular where a mother dressed in folklore attire cradles a child on her back. While Ju Ming's Taichi series is endowed with an animated and imposing manner, while the Living World overflows with distinctive tenderness. The two series display Ju's wide artistic range and creativity.

Later works Taichi Series-Arch (Lot 1124), Taichi Series- Like Blocking and Closure Lean (Lot 1188) and Taichi Series (Lot 1125) of the 1990s and 2000, Ju Ming explores the figure in a further abstract manner. Ju masters the entire vision of the body form throughout his Taichi series, and allows for an intact projection of the stream of consciousness, for the rustic and unembellished style of cutting, and for spontaneous treatment of masses and surfaces, heightening the feeling of vigor and spirit.

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