(ZHU DEQUN, Chinese, B. 1920)
No. 314
left panel: signed 'CHU TEH-CHUN' in Chinese & Pinyin; dated '1969'; titled 'No. 314' (on the reverse)
right panel: signed 'CHU TEH-CHUN' in Chinese & Pinyin; dated '69' (lower right); signed 'CHU TEH-CHUN' in Chinese & Pinyin; dated '1969'; titled 'No.
oil on canvas, diptych
each: 196 x 130.5 cm. (77 1/8 x 51 3/8 in.)
overall: 196 x 261 cm. (77 1/8 x 102 3/4 in.)
Painted in 1969
Private Collection, Asia
Chu Teh-Chun Retrospective Exhibition, exh. cat., National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China, 2010 (illustrated, plate 61, pp. 106 & 215).
Chu Teh-Chun Retrospective Exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China, 2010.

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Lot Essay

An Imaginary Journey in the Epic and a March through the Spirit of East and West

Art critic Jean-Clarence Lambert said that in Chu Teh-Chun's work he found a sense of harmony, combined with the basic elements of nature and the universe. That is, he saw a dynamic power that unites all the elements of the canvas, even as they collide, merge, and give birth to new forms. He saw Chu as "a painter of fire - of air and fire, with, besides, something incomprehensible pertaining to the particular mystery, such personal magic power makes him a unique figure within the School of Paris." Chu's style of abstraction transforms concrete forms into fleeting essence, the invisible force and elements hidden in nature always remains his source of inspiration (Fig. 1), and he linked the natural world closely to the cosmology of the Yi Ching , or Book of Changes , which sees in all things the process of transmutation and rebirth. Chu Teh-Chun's painting becomes the instant expression of this traditional Chinese philosophy.

From the point of view of the philosophy of aesthetics that arose in the mid-19th century, Chu's art begins with sensory experience, which perceives an objective "nature in its primal form (la nature naturée). Through the subjective intervention of individual thoughts and feelings, the artist injects his own "aesthetic intuition" into the creative act, and produces a new, "created nature (la nature naturante)." This conforms to the arguments of the Jena Romanticism and German Idealism philosopher Friedrich W. J. Schelling. When discussing the relationship between art and nature, he said that "beauty is the infinite, expressed within finite images." Art exists in the endless battle between our direct impressions from life and our own reflections upon it. Schelling called art "the force field that links the soul with nature." Chu's works reveal otherworldly landscapes and a feeling of the infinite, transcending space and time. They are the product of a sharp, sensitive, and richly poetic awareness, reaching far back into his long-buried memories of "a lifetime of grand travels," that are eventually sublimated and projected onto his canvases. The seemingly infinite memory flow on his canvases turns space and time into a frozen instant of eternity.

Recreation of a Poetic Landscape with Refined Colour and Light Source

Chu Teh-Chun has surpassed all his contemporaries in his use of magnificent flow of colour. His colour palette transforms and bursts into lays of hues in all varieties, dark, bright, heavy or light. In the biography of Chu Teh-Chun written by Zu Wei, Chu recalls being amazed by the avant-garde experiments led by Lin Fengmian, the head of Hangzhou Academy of Art at that time. Lin Fengmian broke the Chinese ink-wash traditions by adding dense, brilliant colours to his ink paintings. Under Lin's great influence, Chu came to the realization that "Lin's revolutionary way of visually experiencing nature overturned traditional, stereotypical ink-wash practices, in which only shades of grey were added. He recaptured for us the soul of the human visual experience-abandoned since the time of the Song Dynasty's literati painters-which is colour." Chu later got to know more about the Dutch master painter Rembrandt's work in Europe, which provided him creative inspirations and pushed him to think more deeply about "interwoven cadences of light," and further, to derive even more skillful ways of expressing various aspects of light.

With Western colour relationships and the abstract Lines of calligraphy, I hope to mold a new style of abstract painting: one that Can express the ineffable qualities of classical Chinese poetry, and abstract Conceptions that Can only Be sensed or Felt. given What the Western Critics have Been saying about MY Work, they seem to have understood that i am searching for something different from those of Western abstract artists.

Chu Teh-Chun

No. 314 (Lot 10) dates from 1969. On the grand scale of this canvas, Chu applies flowing lines with sweeps of his broad brush, and produces a broad background of darkness as it roams the canvas. A gently shimmering light seeps from the central area of the composition, breaking through the reserved, deep black stillness. Just as in Rembrandt's paintings, with the exquisite placement of light sources and dramatic contrast of light and shadow (Fig. 2), a scene materializes with breathtaking depth and atmosphere. The warm-toned hues develop into flickering firelight that spreads its deep mysterious light through this endless universe and creates fantastical visual effects. Interwoven streaks of light and shadow unfold a chain of waves, reminiscent of the Northern Song painter Guo Xi's Landscape (Fig. 3) and its boundless vista. Guo Xi's impromptu composition once again exemplifies the use of the "horizontal perspective" technique in classical Chinese painting, expressing depth and endlessly extended distance. Chu Teh-Chun, employing his flowing freehand technique in a similar manner, pours out his unspoken poetic sensibilities in the world he creates in No. 314.

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