Chu-Teh-Chun first discovered the great masters of Western painting in 1935 in the ancient Song capital of Hangzhou. His teacher, Lin Fengmian, was a fervent admirer of Cézanne and Matisse. The same year, the Sino-Japanese conflict obliged the students of the Hangzhou School of Fine Arts to leave the city for Chongqing, at four thousand kilometers to the West. It took Chu The-Chun over two years to travel this distance. During the trip, the young artist attempted to depict the landscapes he travelled through in the pure Chinese tradition. He drew over a hundred works, in the manner of the great landscape artists of the Tang and Song dynasties. Over the following months, Chu The-Chun was quick to understand how, due to this particular genre, which however takes a very different form in the Western tradition than in the Chinese tradition, he was able to create a link and bring the two aesthetic cultures together.
Chu Teh-Chun moved to France over a century later where he again met with Lin Fengmian whose works were shown at the Cernuschi musuem in a retrospective exhibition dedicated to the latter. At the time, exhibitions dedicated to the work of Chu Teh-Chun were taking place across Europe; in Luxemburg, Sorrento, Saint-Etienne, and the first solo show entirely devoted to his work has already taken place. It is in this context that the artist painted 5 mai 1978, a majestic painting that has never yet been presented at auction. The painterly performance is extraordinary. The colour seems to emerge from an abyss, a proliferation of fire, of light flashes. At the heart of matter, life trembles. An entire inner world is revealed, evoking “the joy of the moment or even the awareness of the simple rhythm of hours and seasons”, as Jean Cardot perfectly resumed in his speech given for the public reception of Chu Teh-Chun at the Académie des beaux-arts française in 1999.
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