(ZHU DEQUN, French/Chinese, B. 1920)
Evocation Hivernale A
signed in Chinese, signed 'CHU TEH-CHUN' (lower right); titled, signed and dated "Evocation hivernale A" CHU TEH-CHUN 1988'; signed in Chinese (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
100 x 73 cm. (39 3/8 x 28 11/16 in.)
Painted in 1988
Private Collection, Asia
This work has been proposed for inclusion in the forthcoming Chu Teh-Chun artist catalogue raisonne, co-edited by Atelier Chu Teh-Chun and Mrs. Chu Ching-Chao

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Lot Essay

Chu Teh-Chun created work - Evocation Hivernale A (Reminiscence of winter A) (Lot 18) - after viewing a stormy scene on the Alps from his train window. He was travelling from Switzerland to France after organising his exhibition in Zurich in 1985. He was deeply touched by the power of nature which prompted him to create works featuring snow. He used pale green as a base for the composition, and drew thick, rough, black lines and scattered silvery-white dots over the canvas to illustrate the wintry Alps covered in snow. Chu attended the Hangzhou School of Art, which led elements of Chinese art to have profound influence in his career as an artist. The composition of this work bares some similarities to landscape scrolls from the Song Dynasty (960-1279), sharing the same vast beauty and mighty power of nature depicted in Fan Kuan's Autumn Forest Waterfall. Chu developed space within his work by dividing the painting with a cforeground, middle-ground and background - showing the overlapping mountain peaks so that, from a single viewpoint, they could be seen from various angles; the result evokes the same effect described by Guo Xi as "viewing the mountains from multiple perspectives as one moves along." The unrestricted, free brushstrokes that Chu used to draw mountain peaks capture the momentum similar to Chinese cursive font. Chu's grandfather, a doctor, was a great fan of calligraphy and drawing, hence from a very young age, Chu received exposure to many famous paintings and calligraphic works. The popular Chinese belief that calligraphy and painting share the same roots provides the calligraphic influence seen in Chu's paintings. His brushwork is similar to that of Liang Jie's "reduced brushstrokes" in Splashing Ink Painting of Gods, where we can observe the similarities ofexpressive strokes, created beautifully on paper. Chu draws with a "flying" brush and a precise control of the movement of each stroke. While enhancing the rugged shapes of rocks, he conveys both the rugged and tranquil nature of the Alps, as well as their inintrinsic and extrinsic beauty.
Chu's deep roots in Chinese art is often reflected flawlessly in his works, like the "three imprefections"(san jue) put forth by Emperor Song Huizong. Even with limited colours, Chu is able to communicate a profound message.
Since Paul Cezanne, Western painting has moved away from boundaries dictated by form and natural representation, towards exploring individual thoughts and discovering the motivation behind expressing emotion through art, leading to the birth of abstract art. Abstract art can be further divided into action painting and colour field painting. While colour field painting is more rational and clean, using more geometrical shapes such as straight lines and patterns, action painting is more sentimental, utiilizing curved lines and irregular geometrical shapes to create action, rhythm, and a mysterious, romantic atmosphere within the composition. Jackson Pollock is a master of action painting, producing his works through repetition, improvisation and intuitive actions such as dripping and applying paint onto the canvas, allowing colours and lines to overlap and form an image. Pollock's No. 22 does not have a theme, a subject or a limited space, evidencing that Pollock followed his own intuition in dividing and forming spaces, lending a feeling of unpredictability to his works. In contrast to Pollock, Chu's abstractionism has an oriental philosophical element. He once said, "The colours and lines in paintings are not randomly created, but instead are made to cohesively achieve the common objective of enlivening light, forms and rhythm."The abstract snow scenery depicted in Evocation Hivernale A is not visually accurate or an objective replication of the landscape, but rather it is Chu's own reinterpretation and categorization which illustrates the "truth"of the subject matter. Chu's abstract paintings consist of both the rationality of colour field paintings and the sentiment of action paintings; they show the depth of human psychology while lacking definite form - somehow managing to be both to be easily accessible, yet challenging to comprehend.
The technique and style of artists often changes and flourishes as they become more mature and gain more experience of life. When Chu first arrived in France, and was trying to find a balance between Eastern and Western art, he created Composition No. 28. He used a single colour for the background and broad, rapid brushstrokes to draw lines with varying widths which flowed onto the canvas like a river. He also used blocks of different colours to enhance the rhythm. It was a transition period for Chu who was trying to learn to synchronise the more delicate oriental art and the wilder Western art and his work reveals that he was still in the early stages of developing his skills. When Evocation Hivernale A was created, Chu had already successfully developed his own abstract style and his treatment of space was more mature with greater harmony between the lines and blocks. The apparently simple brushstrokes are actually very powerful and are bursting with visual tension. As the saying goes, "I would rather observe the landscape myself than base my work on others' works. I would rather indulge in my thoughts and reflect thoroughly than merely observe the surroundings." Chu not only painted mountains and snow, but also the spirit of life. His close observations of nature are reinterpreted and connected with his internal thoughts. Through internalising outward, external subject matter into personal feelings, Chu signifies the everlasting relationship between mankind and nature.

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