The Alps has been the subject of countless painters because of its natural beauty and the culture it exemplifies. For example, J.M.W Turner created Snowstorm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps imbued with a sense of history and desolation, now a widely acknowledged masterpiece. Two centuries on, Chu Teh-Chun interpreted the same topography with a completely different mindset, painting a characterful series of snowy landscapes matching in artistry with those European masters.
Most people considered French painter Nicolas de Staël (originally of Russian descent) as a primary influence on Chu Teh-Chun's abstract landscapes. Indeed, Chu has stated numerous times that Staël was his inspiration as he entered into the world of abstract oil painting. But after thoroughly understanding Western art, Chu emphasised even more so the spirit and technique of Chinese painting, bringing forth new elements to his own artistry and to the entire Western art world. Among the many painters of the Song dynasty, Chu Teh-Chun favours Fan Kuan. Fan was an expert in painting snowy landscapes, and his Landscape of the Snowy Forest skillfully depicts snow-capped peaks and valleys shrouded in frozen mist. Chu Teh-Chun's Complexité hivernale achieves similar effects, despite using techniques that are poles apart. The subtle mixing of clouds and snow is the result of a multi-layered application of white paints as well as the splattering of pigments. Although the two painters used different techniques, their textures of snow are closely comparable.
Rarity in the competitive market
Chu Teh-Chun's snowy landscapes are always in the limelight whenever they appear in the market. Up till now, snowy landscapes rank both first and second among the highest sales records of Chu's paintings. Of Chu's fifteen highest-priced paintings, six feature landscapes with snow. This painting series is prized not only because of Chu's high level of artistry, but also because of their limited supply. Discounting a few special cases from the 1960s and around the millennium, Chu Teh-Chun only devoted himself to snowy landscapes between 1985 and 1990. Because of their rarity, and also due to the fact that many belonged to European private collectors for decades, such paintings inevitably attract tremendous attention whenever they appear in the market. In comparison with those six snowy landscapes among Chu's top fifteen, Complexité hivernale contains far more vibrant colours, its brushwork more varied as Chu freely used a wide range of brushes on the single canvas. Whether from the perspective of inspiration or technique, Chu has absorbed the best of the East and West. Apropos the delicate balance of artistry and style, this painting is a true rarity. Whether we trace Complexité hivernale's chronology within Chu's oeuvre or assess its artistic value, this is a premium masterpiece and a leading exemplar of epoch-making art.
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