As the French representative, Chu Teh-Chun was subtly connected to the Punto Movement in ways that have largely been overlooked. Long before he had travelled to France, Chu had forged eastward toward Taiwan, taking on a teaching position at Taiwan Normal University, enlightening the young Hsiao Chin, Lin Kuo-Sung, Chuang Che, and other founders of the Eastern Painting Group and the Fifth Moon Painting Group. In fact, Hsiao Chin and Ho Kan paid a visit to Chu while Chu was in Paris, and the artist subsequently participated in multiple events held and planned by Hsiao Chin. In 1964, Hsiao Chin organized the ‘Contemporary Chinese Artist’ exhibition at the Museum Morsbroich in Leverkusen, and in 1982, he hosted an exhibit entitled ‘The Chinese Response: Paintings by Leading Overseas Artists’ at the Hong Kong Museum of Art. Chu lent his efforts toward both of both of these events, with preserved photographs documenting Chu’s works on display at the exhibitions. Chu went on to conquer the prodigious Alps, its ranges spanning France, Italy, and Switzerland. The magnificent scenery of the mountain range became the muse for Chu’s “Snow Scene” series, which, universally acclaimed, are considered the artist’s most impressive masterpieces. Le 28 decembre 1978 (Lot 1012) and Abstraction neige II (Lot 1014) are two paintings whose styles bridge the artist’s creative past with what was to come, serving as a record of Chu’s expansive artistic journey.
The composition of Le 28 decembre 1978 invokes the traditional upright (or vertical scroll) form of traditional Chinese painting. The vertical scroll conveys a sense of both ‘high distance’ and ‘deep distance’. The sensation of layers and layers piling upon each other in this painting shares an interesting correspondence with Northern Song painter Fan Kuan’s Snow-Covered Scene and Cold Forest. Chinese painting and poetry are inextricably connected. In Le 28 decembre 1978, Chu masterfully blends white upon the canvas, meticulously applying white oil colour in a variety of washes, creating a visual effect of rich yet fine layers. Together, the foreground, middle ground, and background form a sense of distance and depth, accentuating the thickness of the snow, the mountains blanketed in white. The colours of green and red exquisitely punctuate the white snow, adding to the vividness of the painting.
After nearly twenty years of gestation, Chu raised the opening curtains on his “Snow Scene” series with an unprecedented work featuring the striking dynamism of whirling snow in Abstraction neige II, completed in 1985. Chu ingenuously captures the dynamism of the layered white world and the swirling snowflakes. This dynamism can be stratified into three layers. The first feeling of movement that meets the viewer’s eyes is that of the swirling snowflakes, which Chu created by flicking his brush. The white splatters fly toward all corners of the canvas, scattering upon the heavens and earth, and amid the mountain range. Following the trajectory of the artist’s movement, they seem to hint at the artist’s own movement, dancing upon the scene of snow.
Le 28 decembre 1978 can be said as the bridge that connects Chu’s early lyrical abstraction to the pinnacle of his career, demonstrated by the “Snow Scene” series. The snow-capped mountains in Le 28 decembre 1978 are undoubtedly the first strokes of what was to come, a valuable record that nods to the past and announces the future of Chu’s creative journey. Abstraction neige II is a testament to the artist’s melding of Eastern and Western aesthetics and techniques, and the series that came to represent his artistic peak. This evening sale offers both an early piece that highlights the artist’s masterful rendering of white, as well as an exquisite and classic “Snow Scene” painting, both of which allow its viewers to linger with the artist in the snow-white space he has created.
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