CHU TEH-CHUN (1920-2014)
All proceeds of the sale including premium charges will be donated to the Scholarship Fund of the National Chengchi University, Taiwan
CHU TEH-CHUN (1920-2014)

Tendres souvenirs (Tender Memories)

CHU TEH-CHUN (1920-2014)
Tendres souvenirs (Tender Memories)
signed in Chinese ; signed 'Chu Teh Chun '05' (lower right); titled and signed in Chinese ; titled, signed and dated 'Tendres souvenirs Chu Teh Chun 2005 ' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
130 x 195 cm. (51 1/8 x 76 3/4 in.)
Painted in 2005
Marlborough Gallery, New York, USA
Important Private Collection, Asia
Shanghai Bookstore Publishing House, Chu Teh Chun: Recent Works, Shanghai, China, 2005 (illustrated,
p. 48).
Pierre-Jean R?my (ed.), ?ditions de La Diff?rence, Chu Teh-Chun, Paris, France, 2006 (illustrated, p. 296).
Marlborough, Chu Teh-Chun: Paintings, New York, USA, 2006 (illustrated, p. 35).
The Ueno Royal Museum & Thin Chang Corporation, Profound Image: A Retrospective of Chu Teh-Chun, Taipei, Taiwan, 2007 (illustrated, p. 373).
National Museum of History & Thin Chang Corporation, Chu Teh-Chun 88 Retrospective, Taipei, Taiwan, 2008 (illustrated, p. 212).
Shanghai, China, Shanghai Art Museum, Chu Teh Chun: Recent Works, 12 October - 10 November 2005.
New York, USA, Marlborough, Chu Teh-Chun: Paintings, 17 May - 17 June 2006.
Tokyo, Japan, The Ueno Royal Museum, Profound Image: A Retrospective of Chu Teh

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Lot Essay

Chu Teh-Chun's exploration of compositional expression started to continuously progress since the 1980s. He was prompted to reconsider his colour structure and compositional arrangement after his visit to Venice in the spring of 1991, where he witnessed the ideology of colour over line upheld by Venetian school painters such as Tintoretto and Titian. After the 1990s, although predominately created with a central colour scheme, the lines in his paintings began to transition into planes and colour blocks. Along with the compositional changes, his colour applications also became more vibrant, with colours of the rainbow experimented with on several occasions, resulting in paintings of elusive and dreamy qualities compared to his earlier works (Fig.1). The vivid colour scheme was maintained by the artist after the turn of the millennium, with his brushstrokes becoming broader, swifter, which made the colours more transparent and watery, sometimes generating the effects of oil dripping and running (Fig.2). Tendres Souvenirs (Tender Memories) (Lot 59) was completed in 2005. It is a quintessential example of the artist's notable creative features from this period, with a tactful, restrained essence and lingering inner sentiments simultaneously projected.
Chu employs a variety of colours combined with a central pastel blue and dark brown tonality, as well as a semi-transparent quality that the artist deliberately sought. This produces spreading halo effects in the indigos, minted ice colours and baby blues, similar to the effect of inks spreading across xuan paper or the pleasing cascade of colours revealed in refracted light. At the transecting zone where illuminated translucent oil pigments and dark colour blocks meet, a surge of dramatic energy is found bursting outwards, with an immense contrast formed with the tranquil and lingering emotions projected by the colour pallet. Amidst the tangible and the elusive, the moving and the still, a sense of light-heartedness is emitted by the painting. Late 18th century American-born British-based artist- James McNeill Whistler- was one of the first artists to transform Western landscape paintings from figurative to abstract. The general direction of the visual movement in his 1875 Nocturne in Black and Gold - The Falling Rocket is guided by the contrasting elements in the painting, with clear light sources emerging from the dark background, and light which also arises from within and behind the lines as well as colour blocks of the paintings. Through ambiguous spatial boundaries and directional lines and colour blocks, scenes that are seen as well as sensed are formed. (Fig.3)
Free flowing broad strokes is a key notable feature in Chu's paintings. Within the large-scale canvas of 130 x 195 centimetres in this painting, is a brushstroke of 20 centimetres wide in the middle left and upper section of the painting. Through the process composed of swift brushstrokes, brightness and darkness are formed by the shifting intensity of the oil, traversing from a faint glow to the darkest of charcoal black. The overlapping and fusing layers are then adorned with rhythmic touches of varying sizes, resulting in a sense of beauty in the overall image that seems to be filled with misty, flowing spirits of Heaven and Earth. As stated in the Chinese classic I Ching or Book of Changes, "There happened an intermingling of the spirits of Heaven and Earth, uniting the two qi in harmony and giving birth to myriad things." The result from this uniting of the two qi is regarded as the most primal matter in the universe, and it is formed by cosmic activities, leading to the birth of all things. This is the origin and also the finale of all, an endless cycle.
Another endlessly revolving cycle is found with perpetually circulating memories. Tracing back a decade prior to the completion of Tendres Souvenirs (Tender Memories) in 2005, it marked a prolific period in Chu's artistic career. In 1994, he returned to China and made offerings with his wife at the graves of his parents in his hometown in Anhui Province after having been away for 57 years. In 1997, he was inducted into the prestigious Institut de France as a member of the Beaux-Arts, making him the first Chinese artist in its more than 250-year history to receive such honours (Fig. 4). Following his return to Asia and at the turn of the 21st century, he presented solo exhibitions in various Asian cities, including Taipei, Shanghai, Guangdong and Busan. With his two sons married and settled down at this time, Chu also enjoyed a blissful family life with grandchildren, as both his career and personal life progressed into a bright and optimistic stage (Fig.5). His artistic style became even freer and more unrestrained, while also showing greater internal depth, scope, and stability.
The pastel blue background in Tendres Souvenirs (Tender Memories) resembles the fleeting past, and the various overlapping brushstrokes placed on top are reminiscent of the artist's happy and carefree experiences. Various shades of blue are used to denote the big and small events in his life, and the blackish brown colour blocks at the bottom form a bridge extending upwards, linking the present and the past. Viewing from its contrasting nimble brush and ink aesthetics and vigorous oil painting gestures, this painting reminds one of a chest filled with the thoughts of the artist, condensing his entire life within. It is a piece of high commemorative value. Offered for auction by an important Asian private collector, proceeds from the sale of this painting will be donated to National Chengchi University's scholarship for underprivileged students in Taiwan. While helping to expand the universality of higher education, Chu's art legacy will also be passed down, casting impacts on the future generation.

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