Une belle journée (A Beautiful Day)

each panel: 162 x 130 cm. (63 3/4 x 51 1/8 in.)
overall: 162 x 260 cm. (63 3/4 x 102 3/8 in.)
Anon. Sale, Christie’s Hong Kong, 26 May 2012, lot 2905
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued on 14 February 2011 and signed by Mrs. Chu Ching-Chao.
Artist Publishing Co., Overseas Chinese Fine Arts Series II: Chu Teh-Chun, Taipei, Taiwan, 1999 (illustrated, plate 99, p. 159).
Pierre Cabanne Editions Flammarion, Chu Teh-Chun, Paris, France, 2000 (illustrated, plate 35, p. 110-111).
Chu Teh-Chun, Frédéric Ballester, La Malmaison, L'Espace Miramar, La Villa Domergue, Chu Teh-Chun: Paysagisme des songes (The Landscaping of Dreams), exh. cat., Direction des Affaires Culturelles de la ville de Cannes, Cannes, France, 2004 (illustrated, p. 53).
Cannes, France, La Malmaison, Chu Teh-Chun: Paysagisme des songes (The Landscaping of Dreams): Peintures et Ceramiques (Paintings and Ceramics), 17 January – 2 May 2004. This exhibition later travelled to Cannes, France, L‘Espace Miramar (The Miramar Space), 6 February – 21 March 2004; Cannes, France, La Villa Domergue (Villa Domergue), July 9 – September 26 2004.


Shanshan Wei
Shanshan Wei




Une belle journie (A Beautiful Day) (Lot 19) takes azure as its main theme, and uses the artist’s manipulation of light and flow to diffuse it into a taffeta of varying shades of blue, allowing readers the experience of soaring across the artist’s freehand conception between the sky and the sea, filled with liveliness and energy. Diptychs of this impressive size is very rare on the market, and its scale shows the artist’s investment into this piece.

Chu Teh-Chun holds an almost reverential attitude towards the colour blue and said that “blue is the most spirited colour in nature, it is filled with poetic subtlety as well as all-encompassing amiability, blue belongs to all life, and the earliest life was born from blue – in the ancient oceans.” On the canvas, the blue paint evokes the splendour of nature, and reminds one of the rarefied airs of the skies, as well as the rolling waves of the seas. The bold broad stroke of white light diffuse from the top-right corner, and guide the viewer’s attention towards an expanse of auspicious and hopeful cobalt blue, the varying slashes of navy, midnight, and azure blue brim with energy and flow and zig-zag across the centre of the canvas, expanding outwards towards the left and right. In the lowerright corner, the semi-transparent swathe of dark ink seems poised to pounce, ready to stir up a snowstorm in the centre.

Chu paid painstaking attention to each of his strokes and lines. He once said, “in my works, colours and lines are by no means the result of caprice, they exist in harmony towards a shared goal: to open up the light and summon all of its shapes and rhythms.” In other words, Chu aimed at exploring how to use colour and light to broaden our sensory experience, by taking elements of lines and painting (such as the texture of oil paint or colour blocks) to create never-before-seen layers and relationships. This not only creates a new frontier unto multifaceted displays of space, it also takes light and its countless variations to connect a painting with the viewer’s subjective consciousness, thus deepening the layers and meaning in the creation and appreciation of abstract works. English philosopher R.G. Collingwood posited that “in modern paintings after Cézanne, the plane and perspective have disappeared, paintings are no longer limited to the visual sense, they are also tactile and able to guide viewers to experience distance, space, and movement, simultaneously possessing the representational as well as the imaginative.” Chu pioneered the use of semi-transparent paints, combining the rich colours of Western oil painting with the lightness of Eastern ink painting; he applied this style sparingly in strategic locations on the canvas to construct a unique sense of space and distance, as though there is light shining through the canvas itself, giving viewers an unprecedented visual experience.

Art critic Professor Michael Sullivan argued that “on the question of whether Chu Teh-Chun’s works are abstract, it does seem so on the surface, but abstract art of this kind does not exist in traditional Chinese paintings, because throughout history artists have expressed meaning outside representational forms…we can actually discern in his vivid brushstrokes the clouds, the waves, and the chaotic rhythm of creation, these imagined shapes briefly appear before our eyes and disappear. Much like the zen paintings of dragons by Song Dynasty master Chen Rong, a mysterious kingdom exists in Chu’s paintings between the boundaries of definition and shapelessness, and between transience and permanence” Chu’s use of colour and light not only uncovers nature’s thousand faces upon the canvas, it is also a ground-breaking use of Western medium to express “depth and reach” - the concept that underpins freehand landscape paintings from the East. “Depth and reach” does not simply illustrate the spatial relationship among objects in a painting, it is an artistic conception that relies on the artist’s skill to elevate points, lines, and planes to achieve an abstract spirit. Chu noted that “as Fan Kuan once said, instead of learning from man, I should learn directly from nature. Instead of learning from nature, I should learn from my heart. Learning from the heart’ means to focus on the artist, which is ideologically similar to Abstraction – Chinese artists merely neglected to coin the style explicitly as ‘Abstract’. Taking nature and fusing it with the artist’s heart or ideas is to show the artist’s imagination, learning, and personality on the canvas. In that way, Chinese paintings in fact converge with Abstract paintings.”

Chu crossed a new milestone in the 1980s, his composition and technique took him to a brave new world and reflected how he was able to unite the spirits of Eastern and Western art, as well as his mastery over multiple mediums, setting him off on a brand-new stage of his creative journey. Une belle journée (A Beautiful Day) was created at the dawn of this era and remains the best evidence of his ascendance to a higher realm.

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