Lot 618
  • 618

Chu Teh-Chun (Zhu Dequn)

1,500,000 - 2,000,000 HKD
2,500,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Chu Teh-Chun (Zhu Dequn)
  • L’Éveil à la lumière
  • oil on canvas
signed in Chinese and Pinyin and dated 89; signed in Chinese and Pinyin and dated 1989 on the reverse, framed


Galerie Régis Dorval, Paris
Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1991)
Christie's, Paris, 31 May 2011, lot 154
Acquired by the present owner from the above sale

Catalogue Note

The Awakening of Light
Chu Teh-chun

It is an abyss, it is the gasping of time, it is a dynamic poem, its form appears to come from a highly focused spirit, determined to meet the viewer directly in the eyes […] In Chu Teh-chun’s painting, depth floats onto the surface and the contrary moves towards unity.
- Pierre Cabanne

The riveting L'éveil à la lumière (Lot 618) is an exquisite specimen from Chu Teh-chun’s illustrious lyrical abstraction that broke new ground in European Gestural Expressionism by amalgamating classical Chinese aesthetics with Western artistic sensibilities. Exhibiting agile brushwork, superlative composition, a gently whimsical palette and sublime mastery of light and depth, the painting exudes the supreme confidence and refined poise of a Chinese abstract pioneer at the mature height of his powers over three decades after his arrival in France. Framing the top and bottom halves of the painting are deep swathes of dark blue, cobalt and turquoise of varying translucencies and luminosities—against which a sharp burst of light pierces through, bringing with it a kaleidoscopically hued myriad of floating cosmic forms. The piece’s arresting radiance and compelling aura is rendered all the more spectacular by these isolated dynamic brushstrokes that scatter from the deep abyss of light; in French critic Pierre Cabanne’s words, Chu Teh-chun’s paintings resemble “an abyss, [or a] gasping of time [in which] depth floats onto the surface and the contrary moves towards unity”.

Chu Teh-chun moved to Paris in 1955 following training in the highest levels of complex Chinese calligraphy in the Hangzhou National College of Art in the 1930s. Having already established himself as a successful artist in China, Chu Teh-chun was instantly entranced upon encountering European use of light. In particular, Chu Teh-chun was intrigued by the manner in which the Impressionists flooded their works with vibrant shimmering colour, and how their forms seemed to lift off out of the canvas in resplendent visions of light. In developing his own cross-cultural lyrical abstraction, Chu Teh-chun held steadfast to his distinctly calligraphic brushwork as well as his critical roots in Eastern artistic traditions: where the French painters championed painting en plein air, focusing their image on a specific view or specific subject, often even at a specific time of the day, Chu Teh-chun absorbed the cosmic essences nature in its entirety before distilling it into his all-encompassing abstract compositions.

The results of Chu Teh-chun’s consummate fusion of East and West is a transcendent aesthetic that depicts neither the abstract nor the figurative, but rather distils nature into a higher state of mind. In the artist’s own words: “The only source of inspiration I follow is nature, and its preferred mode of expression is lyricism. The creation comes from pure spontaneity, which means, according to Daoist maxim, ‘to release inner emotions’”. The allure of his signature aesthetic, as exemplified by the present lot, owes itself to the charged dualities of Yin and Yang. According to Daoist principles, Yin is dark and damp, a negative deleterious force; in the present lot it is expressed in the orchestrated ribbons of shadowy turquoise enshroud the edges of the painting. Yang is the opposite: fiery, bright and tenacious; in the present work it erupts and surges forth from the very centre of the composition in a rapturous exuberant splendour. In its poetic approximations of nature, bold fusion of Eastern and Western traditions and sheer evocative potency, L’Éveil à la lumière evidences an artist entirely fluent in his own unique visual language and operating at the very apex of his globally acclaimed career.