Chu Teh-Chun (Chinese/French, 1920-2014) Abstraction I

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Lot 1285
Chu Teh-Chun
(Chinese/French, 1920-2014)
Abstraction I

HK$ 2,500,000 - 3,500,000
US$ 320,000 - 450,000
Amended
Chu Teh-Chun (Chinese/French, 1920-2014)
Abstraction I Acrylic on paper laid on canvas, framed
Signed in Chinese and English and dated 85
50 x 65cm (19 11/16 x 25 9/16in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Galerie Point Rouge, Paris
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 1992

    Exhibited:
    'Group Exhibition', Galerie Point Rouge, Paris, 1990

    This work is accompanied by a photo-certificate of authenticity issued by Chu Ching-Chao from the Atelier Chu Teh-Chun, Paris, and will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné

    朱德群 抽象一號 壓克力紙本畫布 木框 一九八五年作

    簽名:朱德群 CHU TEH-CHUN 85

    來源:
    巴黎Galerie Point Rouge
    現藏家1992年購自上述畫廊

    展覽:
    「群展」,巴黎Galerie Point Rouge,1990年

    此作附朱德群巴黎工作室Chu Ching-Chao前述保證書,作品將會收錄在隨後出版的《目錄全集》中

    There is surely no more beautiful elemental force than a snow storm. Powerful and intense, and yet ethereal and diaphanous, such a storm can be all-enveloping, even terrifying. But despite its innate chaos, a flurry of snow is also delicate, formed from tiny crystalline flakes, each more strange and exquisite than the last. It is surely the contrast of force and airiness, this clash of potency and delicacy, which fascinated Chu Teh- Chun and inspired his celebrated series of snow paintings completed during the mid to late 1980s. Abstraction I of 1985 is one of the most satisfying examples from this period, a complex work of art which demonstrates Chu's unrivalled painterly skills and deep understanding of the natural world. This painting, not quite landscape, not quite abstract, retains an air of mystery and requires careful contemplation. In its combination of Chinese and European aesthetics, Abstraction I creates a vision of the world which steps boldly into innovation and modernist aesthetics, and yet retains a foothold in ancient techniques and philosophies. In his combination of old and new, traditional and modern, Chu Teh-Chun developed an important and influential visual language all his own.

    The artist's own story is an epic one. Born into a cultured Chinese family in 1920, Chu was brought up in an artistic environment. He enrolled at the renowned National School of Fine Arts of Hangzhou at the tender age of 15, where he was not only exposed to traditional techniques in brushwork and calligraphy, but also to European imagery and the distinctly occidental practice of oil on canvas. The fact that a number of the masters there had already travelled to France in the 1920s was to prove crucial in Chu's own artistic development. Following his graduation in 1941, Chu moved into teaching, spending six years as a professor at the Taiwan National University in Taipei. It is also during this period that Chu spent time exploring the landscape which surrounded him in more depth, getting to know the shapes and forms of the stunning crags and cliffs that bordered the Yangtze River, taking inspiration from these rugged mountains and deep valleys which had stirred the hearts of generations of Chinese artists.

    The most important journey of Chu's life was to take place in 1955, when he boarded a boat bound for Europe. His ultimate destination was Paris, the heart of the western art world, a place brimming with talent, ideas and invention and a veritable Mecca for modern artists. Although his first port of call on arrival was the Louvre, where he finally had the chance to view the canvases that he had admired for so many years in books and prints, it was a chance encounter with the work of Nicolas de Staël that was to truly change the direction of Chu's own art. Finally, Chu's experiments in abstraction began, launching the long, gradual evolution of the style for which he is now known throughout the world. Paris was to become the artist's home for the rest of his long and distinguished life.

    Chu Teh-Chun's series of snow paintings was inspired by a journey he took across the Alps in the winter of 1985. Having attended the opening
    of a group exhibition at the Galerie Pierre Huber in which he was participating, Chu took the train from Geneva to Paris, crossing the mountains in the middle of a winter storm. Cocooned in the safety of the train carriage, Chu was able
    to witness the extremes of the Alpine weather, and found himself entranced by the wild flurries of snow and the way that they caught and reflected the light. On his arrival in Paris, the artist got straight to work in his studio, seizing
    this vivid experience and transforming it into a painted image. Abstraction I, probably one of the earliest of this important group of works, perfectly
    captures the encounter between man and nature, an experience in which we can only feel humbled by the potent spirit of the world that surrounds us. This painting utilises Chu's distinctive energetic style, his sweeps and swirls of paint, to dramatic effect, with broad areas of pure white evoking the almost blinding light of a snowy mountainside. Peering through the mist of snowfall, the darker shapes of the mountains themselves begin to emerge, vague and shadowy yet unmistakeably imposing. If Abstraction I is a painting about the power of mother-nature, then it is a power which is both wonderful and formidable.

    A number of artists have attempted to capture the innate beauty of snow over the centuries, perhaps drawn to the almost supernatural light that it generates. One of the earliest was Pieter Breughel, whose icy winter landscapes bustle with life. It is perhaps unsurprising that Impressionists such as Monet and Sisley were drawn to the lightness and brightness of a snow scene, and created masterpieces from the shifting, ever changing vistas that is creates. Another member of the Parisian school who tackled this inherently transient subject was Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, who was also active in the French capital in
    the second half of the 20th Century. Her oil on canvas titled Winter in Lisbon of 1958 recalls the snowy skylines of her distant home town, its grid-like composition radically different from that of Chu, and yet no less affecting. Of all these artists, however, it is surely only the Chinese master Chu Teh-Chun who successfully represented snow at its most savage and unpredictable.

    Despite the artist's sad demise earlier this year, Chu Teh-Chun's reputation
    has never been greater. His passing came only days after the completion
    of an important exhibition of his work at the Pinacothèque in Paris, while a
    show of his rare ceramics had opened in London only a week before. He
    has long been feted in France; in 1997, he was elected as a lifelong
    academician to L'Institut de France, the first Chinese person to receive
    this honour, and in 2006 the European Union awarded him the European
    Gold Medal of Merit. His work is also greatly appreciated in his native China,
    admired by museum curators and private collectors alike. Predictably, given their almost mesmerising beauty, the paintings from his snow series are now amongst the most sought-after and highly regarded. As such, Abstraction I can be viewed as representing the pinnacle of a long and influential career, a paradigm of Chu Teh-Chun's unmistakeable style and a perfect example of his masterly
    fusion of techniques both ancient and modern, oriental and occidental.

    暴風雪既強大激烈又飄逸精緻,可以把世界完全籠罩至一個可怕的地步,是最華麗的元素力量。即使有多混亂,雪是微小片狀結晶形成的,每一顆都玲瓏特別。朱德群迷上了雪的矛盾本質,並從此取得他八十年代著名雪畫系列的靈感。一九八五年作的〈抽象I〉非常複雜,充分表現出朱德群無與倫比的繪畫技術以及對大自然的深刻理解,是這時期最令人滿意的其中一件作品。這幅畫既不是風景畫,又不只是抽象畫,洋溢著神秘的氣氛。〈抽象I〉包含了中西的美感,創造出大膽的現代主義世界,但同時保留了傳統的技術和理念。朱德群結合了新與舊、傳統與現代,自己發明出極具有影響力的視覺語言。

    朱德群一九二〇年生於中國的知識份子家庭,在藝術環境中長大,十五歲開始就讀知名的國立杭州藝術專科學校。他接觸傳統書法,也開始熟悉歐洲的意像和西方的油畫技巧。二十年代的藝術大師前往法國,對朱德群的藝術發展起了重要的作用。一九四一年畢業後,朱德群在台灣國立大學擔任教授六年。這一段時期他更深入探索周圍的自然環境,認識長江邊緣各式各樣驚人的峭壁懸崖,在這些崎嶇蜿蜒的山脈和深谷中吸收觸動數代中國藝術家的靈感。

    一九五五年朱德群前往巴黎,踏上了他生命中最重要的旅程。巴黎是西方藝術世界的心臟,充滿著人才、創意和革新,是藝術家的聖地。雖然抵達後他第一時間拜訪盧浮宮,欣賞他羨慕以久的大師名作,但他的藝術方向是因為一個與尼古拉斯.斯達爾(Nicolas de Staël)作品的偶然巧遇而改變的。其後朱德群開始對抽象畫試驗,展開他舉世聞名的風格中,漫長的演變。巴黎成為了朱德群的家。

    朱德群冰雪畫作系列的靈感來自他一九八五年冬天跨越阿爾卑斯山的旅程。他參與Pierre Huber畫廊開幕式後乘火車從日內瓦回巴黎,穿越山區的冬季風暴。在安全的火車廂內,朱德群見證了高山氣候的
    極端,發現自己迷上了雪的野性以及它的光芒。到達巴黎後他立刻回到工作室,抓住這個鮮明強烈的經歷,將其化成畫作。〈抽象I〉是這個重要系列最早的作品之一,完美體現了人與大自然的邂逅,有感於宏偉的環境,令人謙卑。這幅畫戲劇性的筆觸突出了朱德群鮮明有力的風格,而純白的範圍猶如白雪皚皚的山坡,閃耀著光芒。朦朧的雪霧中,隱約見到較深色山的影像,雖然模糊但氣勢明確無誤。如果〈抽象I〉是想表達大自然的力量,那麼它是既美妙又可怕的。

    許多藝術家也許是被雪近乎超自然的光吸引著,數百年來試圖捕捉雪固有的美。其中最早是彼得.勃魯蓋爾(Pieter Breughel)畫的繁忙但冰冷的冬天,後來印象派畫家如莫奈(Monet)和西斯萊(Sisley)被閃閃發光的雪境吸引,也不足為奇,因而創造出無數的傑作。另一位活躍於巴黎於二十世紀下半葉創作的藝術家瑪麗亞.海倫娜.維埃拉.達席爾瓦(Maria Helena Vieira da Silva)也在她
    一九五八年的〈里斯本冬天〉回憶她遙遠家鄉白雪皚皚的景色。雖然這幅作品像網格的構圖與朱德群的很不相同,但不失動人之處。但這些藝術家中,唯有朱德群成功地表現出最原始、反覆無常的雪景。

    朱德群今年不幸逝世,但他的名聲仍處於高峰。在巴黎Pinacothèque的一個重要展覽剛結束後幾天,朱德群就過世了,而他罕見的陶瓷才在一週前於倫敦開始展出。他在法國一直倍受尊敬,一九九七年當選為法蘭西學院的終生院士,是第一位中國人獲此榮譽,並在二〇〇六年獲歐盟頒授歐洲傑出人才獎章。他的作品也受到家鄉中國之各大博物館館長和私人收藏家的青睞,而他迷人的飛雪系列畫作是現在最受歡迎的。由此可見,〈抽象I〉 可被視為他漫長而有影響力的職業生涯之巔峰,也是朱德群獨有風格的範例,無疑體現他精湛的技術,完美融合古老和現代、東方與西方。

Saleroom notices

  • Please kindly note that the text entry for lot 1285 and 1286 in the mini catalogue has been switched.
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Chu Teh-Chun (Chinese/French, 1920-2014) Abstraction I
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