CHU TEH-CHUN (1920-2014)
CHU TEH-CHUN (1920-2014)

Mirage èa l'aube (Mirage at Dawn)

CHU TEH-CHUN (1920-2014)
Mirage èa l'aube (Mirage at Dawn)
signed in Chinese, signed and dated 'CHU TEH-CHUN. 90.' (lower right); signed in Chinese, titled, dated and signed 'Mirage èa l'aube 1990 CHU TEH-CHUN' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
130 x 195 cm. (51 1/8 x 76 3/4 in.)
Painted in 1990
Galerie Patrice Trigano, Paris, France
Private Collection, France (acquired from the above by the present owner in 2005)

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Eric Chang
Eric Chang

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Lot Essay

"A stream of smoke rises on the massive desert and the setting sun by the river grows round."
- Wang Wei
In Spring 1955, Chu Teh-Chun finally reaches the French shore of Marseille after a long journey from China. Growing up in the province of Jiangsu known as the "water land" of China, the then thirty-five year old artist, was raised contemplating seascapes and its richness as an aesthetic material. Mirage ? l'aube (Mirage at Dawn) (Lot 60) reveals the intense intimacy of the vital movement of water and its inherent force projected through the artist's inner subjectivity. Chu Teh-Chun's solo exhibition currently on view in Marseille, with works inspired by the sea commemorates the sixtieth anniversary of the artist's arrival in France. While remaining totally abstract, the composition evokes the powerful motion and depth of the sea through movement and colours. As its title suggests, the artist renders the radiant light of dawn melting the land, the sky and the sea merging them into one blue cameo to create this evocative and abstract landscape.
With the aquatic theme recurrent throughout his oeuvre Chu Teh-Chun follows the footsteps of the early 20th Century European expressionist painters, such as Emil Nolde who cultivated a profound connection to the sea in his work, as in Windiger Nachmittag, 1949 (Fig. 1). He was said to "see(s) [the sea] not from the beach or boat but as it exists in itself, devoid of any reference to man, eternally in motion, ever changing, living out its life in and for itself: a divine, self-consuming, primal force" (M. Sauerlandt, quoted in P. Vergo & F. Lunn, Emil Nolde, exh. cat., London, 1995, p. 132). The strong and large brushstrokes in Mirage ? l'aube (Mirage at Dawn) recall a stormy and tumultuous seascape.
Alongside the European artistic influence, Chu Teh-Chun kept a strong tie with the Chinese culture and history during his lifetime. Every night he would pick up a calligraphy brush and frantically reproduce famous Chinese poems with the flowing black ink. This daily practice helped the artist to develop an agility and fluidity with oil painting that no European painter could equal. Illustrating the Chinese conception that one form of art nurtured the other, Wang Wei, the Tang dynasty poet and famous painter strongly influenced Chu as Damien Sausset notes: "The empty space is as important as the line drawn on paper. Everything relates to energy, to the ability to show with the brushstroke that painting and poetry form one entity. From this notion stems [Chu Teh-Chun]'s passion for Wang Wei" (Damien Sausset in Chu Teh-Chun Amours Oc?anes, Connaissance des Arts, No. 603, p. 7). During Wang's time in the 8th Century two separate styles prevailed in the classical landscape painting; the 'blue-and-green' style, using blue, green and red pigments to create depth and relief, opposed to the 'ink-and-wash' style which favours the degree of the ink intensity to express the various textures. Chu distinguishes himself from his contemporaries by enriching his abstract landscapes with vivid colours and a diversity of oil textures, thus successfully recreating a Tang dynasty landscape through limitless artistic expression.

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