CHU TEH-CHUN (b. 1920)
CHU TEH-CHUN (b. 1920)

Invasion du Sombre (The Invasion of Shadow)

CHU TEH-CHUN (b. 1920)
Invasion du Sombre (The Invasion of Shadow)
signed in Chinese; signed and dated 'Chu Teh Chun 99' (lower right); signed and titled in Chinese, signed and dated 'Chu Teh Chun 1999-2000', titled '"Invasion du somber"' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
130 x 195 cm. (51 3/16 x 76 3/4 in.)
Painted in 1999-2000
Private Collection, Asia
Shanghai Museum, Chu Teh-chun 1987-2000, Shanghai, China,
2000, (illustrated, pp. 96-97).
Shanghai, China, Shanghai Museum, Chu Teh-chun 1987-2000, 28
September - 26 November 2000.

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Lot Essay

Invasion du Sombre (The Invasion of Shadow) (Lot 76) is a beautiful example of a central theme in CTC's oeuvre: the portrayal of light. Painted by the end of the 1990s, a decade of frequent travels and artistic discovery bringing the artist to full maturity, Invasion du Sombre (The Invasion of Shadow) unveils a dichotomous contrasted space. Soft large sweeps of wash-like browns battle to suppress an intense luminescent light picking through from the background.
About Chu Teh-Chun's painting method in the 1990s, Pierre Cabanne interestingly notices a release to an immanent force, the painter acting as the sole visual translator of an absolute universe: 'A Chinese painter once said that one must begin a painting with a broom and finish it with an embroidery needle. It is a lesson Chu Teh-Chun has not forgotten. When he paints particularly very large compositions, his brush first sweeps across the surface in one spontaneous gesture. He does not yet know what his aim is, though the vision of the painting is already in his mind. Then, in quick brush strokes, he brings out of this initial expanse, which he seldom amends, or if he adds touches, there is never an overabundance of them, incandescent bursts of fire and strings of many-coloured flares of light that rend the darkness as they spread out and away in explosions.' (in Chu Teh-Chun, Cercle d'art, Paris, 1993 p. 174) From the 1980s Chu Teh-Chun develops a complete new approach to spatial presentation. The painter favours large Chinese brushes and applies more translucent layers to the manner of ink-wash painting. He creates an intricate game of multidirectional brushstrokes, especially apparent in the dark areas, from which results at once a sense of both intimacy and urgency. Like yin and yang, light and shadow work together in a constant interplay, one element enhancing the quality of the other.
Executed after a trip in Venice, where Chu carefully studied the Italian masters such as Tintoretto, Titian and Carpaccio, Invasion du Sombre (The Invasion of Shadow) shows the impact of the Western Renaissance painting (fig. 1) on the Chinese artist. Like his renowned ancient counterparts, Chu creates a space of deep contrast where darkness becomes a dominating feature, to the manner of the best Tenebrism, an extreme form of chiaroscuro developed during the Baroque period in Europe. In 1991 started the Gulf War, a historical event which deeply inspired the artist, who then uses the canvas as a space of expression, a symbol of peace and hope. The painting's title, a key to enter Chu's inner world, indicates an ideological battle between light and dark, good and evil, a recurrent theme in his 1990s paintings (fig. 2).
With Invasion du Sombre (The Invasion of Shadow), Chu Teh-Chun acts as a sensitive witness of our contemporary world, encompassing at once the most brilliant Italian Renaissance achievements and the memorable events of the closing decade of the 20th Century, while surpassing the material world in representing the immanent forces of a spiritual battle.

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