(ZHU DEQUN, French/Chinese, B. 1920)
No. 92
signed in Chinese; signed 'Chu Teh-chun' in Pinyin (lower right); signed in Chinese; signed
'CHU TEH-CHUN' in Pinyin; dated '1961'; titled 'No. 92' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
72.5 x 72.5 cm. (28 1/2 x 28 1/2 in.)
Painted in 1961
Private Collection, Europe

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Eric Chang
Eric Chang

Lot Essay

Follow Nature's Lead to Find the Inner Source
No. 92 (Lot 106), like the two works No. 96 (Lot 9) and No. 81 (Lot 12) offered in the evening sale, is painted in 1961 and assumes Chu's consistent style in the 1960s. He painted sweeping strokes from a broad brush against a largely monochromatic background. The forthright, urgent brushwork stretches across the canvas like a rushing, roaring waterfall, reminiscent of the power of "the great river that rolls towards east with its waves washed away." Chu's brushwork in No. 92 is a fine example of the traditional method for commanding forceful lines. Tao Zongyi of Ming Dynasty referred to this method in his Essentials of Chinese Calligraphy History as, "a work should follow the heart and come to completion naturally." Chu's No. 92 is a precise portrayal of Chu's deep inner feelings that are like surging waves from the sea. Chu's brushwork becomes the extension of himself, one that reflects his wealth of personal experiences and truthful emotions. At the tip of Chu's brush, the work turns into a piece of heartfelt musical that embodies an "image beyond images," a musical in which "the greatest sound is soundless; the greatest image a shadow without form." Chu Teh-Chun, "taking nature as his model," has created here a phenomenal style of abstract landscape, which engendered powerful rhythms in the calligraphic lines that Chu mastered. In No. 92, the energy and power of Chu's lines as they meet and erupt can be seen as a modern reflection of the Emperor Song Huizong's Thousand-Character Cursive Script Calligraphy (Fig. 1), containing much the same kind of grace and strength. This particular work is intensely personal in character, its bold and forceful lines reflect the years of training in calligraphy Chu had in order to produce such finely controlled technique. Chu's skills in expressing lines even surpassed that of Zao Wou-ki and Wu Guanzhong, contemporaries of Chu's who, together with him, honed and refined their abstract art over the decades.

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