Lot 1012
  • 1012

Ju Ming (Zhu Ming)

5,000,000 - 6,000,000 HKD
6,080,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Ju Ming (Zhu Ming)
  • Taichi Series: Sparring [Two Works]
  • L: incised with the artist's signature in Chinese and dated 93
    R: incised with the artist's signature in Chinese and dated 90
  • wood
  • L: 50 by 41 by 37 cm.;   19 5/8  by 16 1/8  by 14 5/8  in.
    R: 42 by 37 by 33 cm.;   16 1/2  by 14 5/8  by 13  in.


Important Private Asian Collection
Christie's, Hong Kong, 29 November, 2009, lot 1023
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner


Ju Ming Sculptures, Council for the Support of the Ceramic Arts/Backup Support Council Gallery, Taipei, 1995

Catalogue Note

Rising up from and Transcending Tradition
Ju Ming's Taichi Series: Sparring

Our love for the work of Ju Ming doesn’t arise from an understanding of how skilled he is, or how he uses materials, but from our understanding of what he is saying. Those memories of the countryside, of the pastoral, of his local surroundings, have become a part of our own memories. Through the marks made by Ju’s hatchet, we see the marks on our own selves, etched by time. My student Ju Ming has always been skilled with engraving wood. The cuts that he makes on his work leave no room for the polished form or structure, but in his delicate and meticulous rendering, each stroke is incomparably precious, giving rise to a three-dimensional vitality.

Artist Yu Yu Yang

Ju began working with sculptures from the age of 15, under the tutelage of Li Jin-chuan in the Taiwanese city of Miaoli. Through making traditional Buddhist statues, he learned solid woodcarving technique, executing precision down to the centimetre. It became work he could have done in his sleep. But Ju did not want a career as a craftsman; he wanted to be an ‘artist’. And thus, in 1968, at the age of 31, he came to sculptor Yu Yu Yang for mentorship, a decision that marked the beginning of his artistic career.

Yu Yu Yang admired Ju’s talent, and under Yang’s instruction and guidance, Ju was quickly able to overcome his inertia-driven habit of reproduction he had become accustomed to traditional craftsmanship. Through the wisdom gained from increased life experience, he injected within his work a new type of vitality and emotion. The inspiration he gained from Taichi, through which he experienced a uniting with the universe, infused the subjects of his Taichi Series. In 1976, the artist held his first solo exhibition at the Taipei Museum of History, an event met with stunning reception. In 1978, he was invited to exhibit at the Tokyo Art Museum, and by the 90s, Ju had become an internationally renowned artist.  In 1990, the artist hosted a solo exhibition at Southbank Centre in London, showcasing about a dozen two- to three-meter tall Taichi sculptures, marking the first time the centre had exhibited a Chinese artist’s work, and the first time an Asian artist had been invited to host a large sculpture exhibit. English art critic J.R. Taylor praised Ju’s work in the Times, saying, "Ju’s background and upbringing are authentically Chinese. He was born in Taiwan, received his artistic training there, yet he has created a style that transcends borders and is highly individualized. It is undoubtedly Chinese, yet at the same time expresses a language that the whole world can understand". Through Taichi, Ju has established himself as an important figure in sculpture, and Taichi Series: Sparring (Lot 1012), completed in 1990s, is a testament to the core tenants of Ju’s artistic concepts as well as the glory of the artist’s reputation during that period.

A Dynamic Concentration of Chi and Energy

In Taichi: Shadow Boxing, the thick wooden pieces have been endowed with individual life.  Under the chopping and slicing of Ju’s blade, the world of Yin and Yang has seemingly been roused into a fluttering dance. What the artist learned through Taichi, the ‘ease, depth, stillness, and steadiness’ of strength, he has adopted into his wielding of the blade upon the grains of wood. His hatchet marks – penetrating the wood and stripping it of ornamentation, each confident cut of the blade possessing meaning and function – render the two shadow boxers with a vivid magnanimity. The figure on the right, in the ‘pushing hands’ position, is on the offensive, while the figure on the left is defends, calm and unhurried. Between this advance and retreat, defence and offense, an immense energy and spirit circulates in this voluminous and unforgettable sight. As English art historian Michael Sullivan points out, ‘Taichi is a form of ritual combat in which two figures actively oppose each other. In his Taichi Series, this conflict of forces is explicit, existing in the dualism of the figures who thrust and retreat, give and take, in a dynamic relationship with one another. An invisible electric current seems to flow between them. The philosophy of Yin and Yang no longer is confined to a single entity, but in the relationship between two opponents … the force and tension between the opponents becomes the source of energy, joining them together like a magnetic force. Ju Ming’s works intensely express this hidden energy’. And therein lies the charm of Taichi Series: Sparring. The artist has wielded the complex through the simple, displaying to the viewer the burgeoning natural rhythms of Taichi, moving the viewers of the world, and at the same time, establishing an immutable position for himself in the world of Chinese art history.