(ZHU DEQUN, B. 1920)
Untitled No. 419
signed in Chinese; signed 'CHU TEH-CHUN' in Pinyin; dated '71.' (lower right); signed in Chinese; signed 'CHU TEH-CHUN' in Pinyin; dated and titled '1971 No. 419' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
65 x 92 cm. (25 1/2 x 36 1/4 in.)
Painted in 1971
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner
Private Collection, Luxembourg

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Lot Essay

My devotion and passion for painting lead me into great flights of fantasy-the quest to achieve beauty is the central necessity of my life. Nature never ceases to inspire and propel me. During my 60 years of unceasing effort, my constant pondering, experience, and comprehension of nature have gradually brought me a kind of facility, and unity with my subjects and paintings, so that my feelings now just flow naturally into the canvas.
- Chu Teh-Chun

Since the 1970s, Chu Teh-Chun's works reflect inspiration from Rembrandt van Rijn, and his fond use of setting strong light with use of yellow and white tones against the black or dark brown backgrounds in bold brushstrokes to created intense visual contrast. In the 1971 work Untitled No.419 (Lot 1011), bright yellows and orange glow through their surrounding darkness to create an image filled with drama; the focal point in the painting is established by a small area of finely painted patches of various bright colours, endowing the foreground with visual intensity. With the gradual diffusion of colours, smoothening of brushstrokes, and darkening of tones around its periphery, profound spacial depth in the background is established. In Untitled No. 549 (Lot 1102), the intensity of colours and brushstrokes of sharp and angular lines disclose Chu's exuberant feelings. The planes of white paint recreate the refraction of strong, bright light, enhancing the sense of contrast and juxtaposition with the dark brown grounds, and the opposing and complementary relationship between light and shadow.

For Chu, the 1980s was a fruitful time of free and inspired artistic expression. His paintings of large washes of striated colours in sweeping brushstrokes expresse an increasingly more fluent and precise handling of the brush. His colours became richer and more brilliant, with larger areas of distinct high-intensity hues. Chu's iRencontre (Lot 1103) takes blue and green as its basic palette in an imposing and magnificent composition built up from the layering and juxtaposition of those tones. Chu once described that blue has a greater feeling breadth and expansiveness than any colour in nature. In the painting, Chu leads us to travel deep undersea; through layers of waves and tides, we can see beams of sunlight from above, and at bottom edges the brown patches seems to signify rocks on the seabed. Through washes and variations of the layered colours, Chu creates an image of reflecting waves, which shines light upon the dazzling colourful outside world. The 1989 work Rouge B (Lot 1104), on the other hand, creates an interesting spatial relationship in its washes of colours. The delicate variations between layers of orange, red and maroon convey an alternate expansion and contraction of space, as though the central patches of colour do not exist in the same plane, but rather floating weightlessly in the picture plane alongside the brushstrokes and lines. The dark, dim contours in the foreground of Les Premie?es Lueurs (Lot 1105) seem to render the forms of a mountain range standing in the shadow, with light emitting from both sides. The fleeting moments at dawn in this scene is fully captured by the bright central parts of the painting.

As Chu Teh-Chun once described, "What I paint is the inner light, the light that comes from my soul." Without depicting specific scenes or figurative objects on his canvases, Chu's pictorial space is solely devoted to vivifying the rich emotions and moods of the artist and his exploration of the force of nature. Such artistic purpose injects lyricism and a broader spiritual meaning into exploration of light and colour in the abstract composition. Chu Teh-Chun "has learned from the example of western experience, developing the aesthetic outlook of the Tang and Sung periods into his own 'formless' style of painting, further developing and extending the essential spirit of painting."

The two fine pieces of calligraphy Poem in Cursive Script (After Li Houzhu's Qing Ping Yue) (Lot 1016) and Essay in Cursive Script (After Tao Qian's Gui Qu Lai Ci) (Lot 1017) give us a clearer picture of the source of Chu Teh-Chun's abstract creation. In Chinese calligraphy, Han characters are subject of presentation, while the beauty in word structure and in the piece of writing is presented mainly through different calligraphic styles, which developed from seal script to regular script. Famous Chinese literati Su Shi remarked that, practicing regular script is the first step to Calligraphy, while the fullness of which is obtained through running script. The artist started learning calligraphy at an early age; in his solid foundation laid over years of practice, Chu first explored in writing in formal regular script to later find writing in running and cursive scripts a more suited channel to express his rich emotions. Han Yu, a scholar in the Tang Dynasty, once praised the famous calligraphist Zhang Xu that, is cursive script is capable of expressing every single move of the heart whether it is happiness, sadness, embarrassment, worry, resentment, admiration, drunkenness, boredom or grievance. Through the rhythmic lines running smoothly through the strokes of the characters in Poem in Cursive Script (After Li Houzhu's Qing Ping Yue) , the artist seems to share the same contemplative emotions expressed in the verse the sorrow aroused by parting is endlessly growing like grasses in Spring by the poet Li Yu. Chu's monumentally- Essay in Cursive Script (After Tao Qian's Gui Qu Lai Ci) executed in one sitting, uses continuous smooth lines of the characters' strokes that run through the whole work, to demonstrate a high degree of abstraction in composition and presentation; the expressive and lyrical lines of characters are constructed to express the artists intense emotions. In writing the Essay in Cursive Script (After Tao Qian's Gui Qu Lai Ci) , the artist gave the author Tao Qian's essay a new reinterpretation, and in it a representation of the unity of man and Nature, emotion and feeling, internal psychology and of external universe.

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