253
253
Mai Trung Thu
LES ENFANTS AU BAIN (CHILDREN BATHING)
Estimate
500,000700,000
LOT SOLD. 2,250,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
253
Mai Trung Thu
LES ENFANTS AU BAIN (CHILDREN BATHING)
Estimate
500,000700,000
LOT SOLD. 2,250,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

|
Hong Kong

Mai Trung Thu
1906-1980
LES ENFANTS AU BAIN (CHILDREN BATHING)
Signed in English, dated in Chinese and stamped with the seal of the artist 
Ink and gouache on silk
54.5 by 46 cm; 21 1/4 by 18 in.
Executed in 1971 
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Catalogue Note

The whimsical, dreamlike quality that each of Mai Trung Thu’s works inhabit are indicative of an imaginative artist reminiscent of his early days in the motherland. Born in An Duong, Vietnam in 1906, Mai Thu’s childhood was a never-ending source of inspiration for his illustrations of the enchanting and dynamic culture of Vietnamese people. As a graduate of The Indochina Fine Arts College (École des Beaux-Arts de l'Indochine), Mai Trung Thu cultivated his talents alongside other prominent modern Vietnamese artists, and it was under the tutelage of Joseph Inguimberty and Victor Tardieu that he developed his acclaimed style of silk painting. Mai Trung Thu’s delicate brushwork and premeditated use of bright colours can be traced to post-Impressionist artists, like Matisse, as he often lined the supple features of his paintings’ subjects, imbuing them with a soft structural elegance. After moving permanently to Paris in 1937, Mai Thu still carried with him an air of patriotic sentiment, one that influenced the way in which he experimented with multi-cultural artistic traditions, such as blending traditional Vietnamese painting techniques with the Fauvists sensibilities of colour.

Executed in 1971, this present lot is the apotheosis of Mai Trung Thu’s creative opus. Playful and naive, Les Enfants Au Bain shows a group of children frolicking by a riverbed. The setting is serene and inviting, akin to a utopian paradise. Mai Thu generates a sense of depth and spatiality by using contrasting colors to separate the silk composition into two clear sections: shades of teal and turquoise traverse the bottom half, delineating a river of tranquility, while a blend of tan and yellow pave the ground on which the children rest. In the foreground, a girl rides a small boat, gathering waterlilies in her basket as the rower traverses amongst the boys playing and bathing in the water.

Charmingly emotive, Mai Trung Thu takes care to decorate each child’s face with expressions that tell a story; a boy casts a sly glance at the girl next to him by the shore, while she looks disapprovingly at him. These are the tales of wide-eyed innocence that the artist so perfectly constructs, as he elucidates the children’s total carefreeness by adorning their clothes with striking shades of chartreuse, aquamarine and peach. Mai Trung Thu’s detailed illustration of the children’s unadulterated mischief fabricate a narrative of romanticism and nostalgia – you can almost hear the children splashing around, chatting together in a moment of complete purity. It is with this radiant piece that the artist combines his meticulous methods of silk painting with the jovial memories of his bucolic childhood to convey his everlasting love for Vietnam. To this day, Mai Trung Thu’s romantic artistry and subsequent influence has made him a celebrated figure in Vietnamese modern art, one that perfectly embodies the qualities of the Ecole Franco-Vietnamese.

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

|
Hong Kong