This Lot has been sourced from overseas. When au… Read more


signed in Chinese, signed and dated ‘CHU THE-CHUN 89.’ (lower right); signed in Chinese, signed, dated and titled ‘CHU THE-CHUN 1989 “Eclaircie” ’ (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
81 x 65 cm. (31 7/8 x 25 5/8 in.)
Painted in 1989
Private Collection, Europe
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the the Chu Teh-Chun Foundation.
Special notice
This Lot has been sourced from overseas. When auctioned, such property will remain under “bond” with the applicable import customs duties and taxes being deferred unless and until the property is brought into free circulation in the PRC. Prospective buyers are reminded that after paying for such lots in full and cleared funds, if they wish to import the lots into the PRC, they will be responsible for and will have to pay the applicable import customs duties and taxes. The rates of import customs duty and tax are based on the value of the goods and the relevant customs regulations and classifications in force at the time of import.

Lot Essay

"He favours certain colours, jade or garden green, sky or ocean blue, golden yellow, autumn brown, pale white, sometimes he merges them, sometimes paints them against the opposite, he breaks the format, let light in to vibrate."

—Pierre Cabanne

Chu Teh-Chun arrived in Paris in 1955, where he witnessed the flourishing of the modern and contemporary art movements that were spreading across 20th century Europe. Exposed to and influenced by abstract art, Chu began to explore new ways of capturing the beauty of nature.

In Eclaircie, a symphony of colours are arranged in a glorious display of dramatic tones, with dramatic juxtapositions of light and dark. The darker hues of the canvas appear illuminated from behind by transparent shades of blue, while the light radiating from the upper centre seems to cascade into a flurry of mint and lemon yellow brushstrokes, presenting the viewer with a vision of vibrant translucency. A few soft touches of warm brown complete the image, evoking the warmth of morning light as it slowly replaces the night.

The richness of this piece is achieved by the contrast of bright and dark hues, the mixture of thick paint and thin washes, and the balance between lightness and weight. Pigments are sometimes hazy, while at other times clearly defined. The blurred paint layers, an aesthetic derived from traditional Chinese ink painting, suggests the moist hazy air of the early morning, while bolder brushstrokes exude the energy of Chinese calligraphy in their expression of power and strength. In Zhang Daqian’s poured-colour work Magnificence of the Mountains drastically different colours of ink blend harmoniously, seeming to float above the surface of the paper. Oil paint behaves differently to ink, being a heavier and less translucent medium, so Chu uses colour and tone to create a sense of spatial layering and depth. Here, warm colours help bring elements into the foreground, while cooler tones seem to recede into the background. Blue and orange, purple and yellow complementary colours leap from the canvas, engaging the viewer’s eye.

Chu Teh-Chun’s sophisticated understanding of Western colour and light theory, as well as his dramatic style of expression, is reminiscent of the striking landscape paintings created by members of the Hudson River School. Frederick Edwin Church’s The River of Light captures the moment when a cold dawn breaks over a lush tropical forest, depicting a similar moment to the one that might have inspired Chu’s Eclaircie. The main difference is that Chu has chosen to abandon the figurative realism of his predecessors, and has eliminated complex details in order to better focus on his expression of ever-changing light and shade.

Chu Teh-Chun skilfully plucks out and highlights the commonalities between western abstract art and traditional Chinese ink painting in his works, combining elements from both traditions to create works that challenge viewers from both cultures, while exploiting the finite nature of the canvas to express the infinite beauty of nature.

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