Lot 1051
  • 1051

JU MING (ZHU MING) | Taichi Series – Single Whip

Estimate
12,000,000 - 18,000,000 HKD
Sold
14,520,000 HKD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Ming Ju
  • Taichi Series – Single Whip 
  • incised with the artist's signature in Chinese, dated 99, and numbered 6/8
  • bronze
  • 185.5 by 94 by 123 cm; 73 by 37 by 48 ⅜ in. 

Provenance

Ravenel, Taipei, 2 December 2012, Lot 662
Acquired directly from the above by the present important private Asian collector

Literature

Juming Museum, ed., Ju Ming Taichi Sculpture, Guangxi Fine Arts Publishing House, Nanning, 2006, p. 92-93
Ju Ming, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, 2004, p. 94-95

Catalogue Note

The Strike of Art and Power Among the Chinese artists who have risen to attain high-level mastery in sculpture on the international stage, Ju Ming sits assuredly at the top. It was the artist’s Taichi Series that catapulted his name to all corners of the world, and Taichi Series – Single Whip (Lot 1051) is an iconic form from this series. The conceit for the Taichi Series originated in the late 70s, at a time when the entire world, through the films of Bruce Lee, was swept up in the raging phenomenon of Chinese kung fu. The martial art became a symbol for the rise of Eastern strength, one that came imbued with an intriguing and mysterious philosophical framework. What followed was a craze of people practicing martial arts in both the East and West. This was the global cultural backdrop against which Ju Ming began transforming his personal taichi training into art, sublimating a form of traditional Chinese martial arts into an artistic symbol.  The lot on offer, Taichi Series – Single Whip, in particular chimes with the Ancient Greek bronze statue, Zeus of Artemision, creating a fascinating dialogue between the contemporary and the ancient, and between Eastern and Western civilizations. In this way, the international stage was primed for the entrance of Ju Ming’s Single Whip, which swept away the presumption of weakness with which the West had regarded China since the late Qing dynasty. More remarkably, this taichi sculpture exhibits form without being confined to form, and displays a martial arts gesture without being restricted to physicality; rather, it points ultimately to the philosophy of taichi, allowing this traditional Chinese philosophy to act as the guide of a contemporary creation, and even of life. When New York’s Wall Street chose a bronze and muscular Charging Bull to display as its symbol of the surging American stock market, Hong Kong’s Exchange Square decided to feature Ju Ming’s large-scale Single Whip, which signifies a symbiotic relationship between strength and gentleness, between aggression and defence. This, it seemed to state, was the stable path to economic longevity. And there, in Exchange Square, the sculpture has remained since the 80s. The financial arena is a space of relentless competition between East and West, of concentrated wealth, and the sculptures chosen by the two countries are an enactment of the countries’ respective philosophies of prosperity. The figure in Single Whip is stooped in a release of strength, while also seizing the opportunity for a counterattack. Its form is restrained, yet brimming with force. The sculpture’s iconic status derives from this very transmutation of a physical martial arts position into art, displaying a form that is at once confident and natural and full of wisdom.  

In the beginning, Ju Ming used single blocks of natural wood as his medium for sculpture. The natural restrictions of the material, however, meant that it was difficult for the artist to create large-scale works. With the continued development of his Taichi Series, then, bronze became the artist’s medium of choice for large-scale works. In comparison with the wooden sculptures, the bronze material used in Taichi Series – Single Whip is firmer and more durable, and suitable for both indoor and outdoor display. Because the bronze material imposes no size limitations, the taichi master’s arms and legs are long and powerful, freely expressing a body language that exhibits a vigorous flow of energy. In his creations, Ju Ming is particularly conscious of using the material’s natural strengths to his advantage. In a wooden sculpture, for example, Ju Ming pays close attention to how the grains of the wood might elevate the expression of his piece. And similarly, in his creations of bronze sculptures, he relies on the material’s natural oxidization over time, even after completion, allowing his contemporary creation to acquire the natural tarnish that echoes the textures of ancient bronze. In this way, even after the piece has left the artist’s hands, it is allowed an independent life of continual evolution. In the entire Asian sculpture market, Ju Ming stands in a league of his own, and Single Whip is one of his most iconic and enduring works.



This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Kalos Gallery, Taipei
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