3313 | CHU TEH-CHUN Painted in 1970 COMPOSITION NO.338


Author: CHU TEH-CHUN 朱德群

Size: 113.6×145.4cm

Signed and dated: Painted in 1970


Final Price: RMB 12,000,000

2000 CHU TEH-CHUN / P78 / Gallery of Onligo Navaha, Paris France
2007 The Great Form Has No Shape - CHU TEH-CHUN / P157 / Xin Chang Co., Ltd., Taiwan
signed in Chinese and pinyin, dated 1970
signed in Chinese and pinyin, dated 1970 (on the reverse)
2007 The Great Form Has No Shape: Chu Teh-Chun Works Of Art Exhibition, Mori Ueno Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan

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Chu Teh-Chun is one of the abstract painting giants in China in the 20th century. Chu Teh-Chun reformed the traditions of Chinese landscape painting and Western landscape painting in a groundbreaking manner, and redefined the creation mode of Chinese abstract painting using flowery and dramatic artistic language. Chu Teh-Chun studied the artistic concept of “blending Chinese and Western art” under his teacher Lin Fengmian at Hangzhou National College of Art. Chu Teh-Chun studied in France in the 1950s, when the international modernist art movement reached its heyday. He was deeply influenced by the concept of modern art and the theory of color structure. In this context, he chose abstract painting as his own expression mode. In his early works, Chu Teh-Chun was influenced by Nicolas de Stael, and gradually developed his personalized language style, namely using unrestrained lines and opposite color blocks for independent expression. Chu Teh-Chun reached maturity in art in the 1960s. Instead of the pure addition of symbols, his paintings are freehand abstract works that combine the lively charms of landscape paintings and spatial pattern. Moreover, he found flexible and changing elements of forms in the deconstruction and reorganization of calligraphic lines. It can be said that Chu Teh-Chun has struck a balance between Eastern and Western art, developed an abstract style with Chinese artistic spirit and connotations, and pioneered an art form that goes beyond time and space and cut across cultural boundaries. As he put it, “I have been working to combine the traditional colors of the Western art and the free forms of Western abstract paintings to make new painting variety using China’s concept of Yin and Yang harmony.”
Composition NO.338 was produced in 1970, which is the “bright” period of pictures in red tones by Chu Teh-Chun. As Chu Teh-Chun said in the My Painting Career, he visited an exhibition in honor of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum (National Museum) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1969. “I entered the museum when it opened and did not leave until the closing time. I think the paintings have few rivals in terms of quality and painting nature.... Since then, I take a more serious attitude to painting, and attach more importance to the quality and effect of painting, and have higher pursuit.” In this exhibition, he was deeply impressed by the deep colors in Rembrandt’s paintings. He was inspired to expand the visual experience through the combination of colors, light and shadow, and develop a simple and pure abstract style. Compared to the previous works that focus on the structure and symbol presentation, works produced after 1970 show the influence of Rembrandt. The paintings use the light and color to explain intuitive perception, and present the thoughts on the origin of life and the spiritual world in a superficial manner. In view of this, Composition No. 338 is without a doubt a masterpiece at this stage.
Composition No. 338 features the orange tone. The painter records his visual impression and soul experience through the changes from orange to russet and ochre. He penetrates and constructs his own color order through his own emotional world. The painting has ever-changing light and colors, stacked blocks and brushstrokes, and moments of flowing light and shadow. The painter uses the violent contrast of colors and the flowing light and shadow to create a light and dark effect, indicating that this is a particular moment of light. The warm light is diffused in the high summer afternoon. It seems that the viewer can follow the change in light to perceive the existence of scenery. In the light and dark tones, the scenery in the painting is distributed according to compact brushstrokes and horizontal painting. It seems to extend from the near to the distant, and from low to high. It can inspire the imagination. However, different from the layout of scenery in traditional landscape paintings, the layout of this painting does not follow the “three-distance” approach, nor the perspective space in Western landscape painting. The scenery is placed in the center of the painting. It extends to the surrounding areas through the swaying light and shadow and intertwined brushstrokes. While appreciating the painting, the viewer feels like standing in the middle of the universe, and experience their smallness in the vast universe. In this painting, Chu Teh-Chun used light and color to create a world with natural scenery, and constructed a landscape space for “travel and living” with abstract elements. He skillfully leveraged the weight of the colors and surface composition to form a dynamism, so that the seemingly empty picture without hurried brushwork is full of drama and a sense of collision. This work transcends the restrictions of abstract painting in terms of scene setting and light and color techniques.
In the Composition No. 338, the painter records his intuitive feeling of the boundless universe, and also shows the unstoppable passage of time through light and shadow. The painter uses brilliant orange color with the brush, which blends in with the grey shadow on the lower left. As colors diffuse, blocks overlap and light and shadow change, the painter reinterprets the concept of time in a minimalist diagram. The violent light projected in the painting gives an illusion of flow, like a time slice captured by a camera. Time is frozen in a moment eternally, and the finiteness of time and the closed nature of space are broken to form a continuous dream until the end of time. The painting seems to narrate the story of origin of human beings. In the illusive representation, the viewers feel an epic story. One must accept the fate in the change and demise of light and shadow. Chu Teh-Chun used his own color blocks and composition to express the awareness of the universe beyond time.
Chu Teh-Chun’s creative process is a process of constantly challenging tradition and breaking through himself. From the freehand style abstraction in the 1960s to the exploration of space and color with light in the 1970s, to the 1980s, Chu Teh-Chun developed richer oil painting techniques, and opened a deeper spiritual exploration and cultural dialogue under the combination of form elements and inner feelings. First Light of the Day, created in 1989, is a masterpiece of Chu Teh-Chun in the 1980s. The composition of the picture is complex but not disordered, creating a rich spatial level with colors. The upper part uses thin oil paint to freely spread a large area, creating a vast sense of space; The lower part of the picture creates a gorgeous visual effect in the crisscross of cold and warm color blocks. The colorful and jumping red, orange, blue and green blocks are superimposed on each other in the center of the picture, reflecting each other, interspersed with flexible short lines. There are smooth continuous long curves at the bottom, and the lines have a free and uninhibited calligraphy style. In this painting, the artist forms a rich picture with elements in the form of points, lines and surfaces, which breaks the perspective space of traditional landscape painting and constructs a multi-level world. Thick and thick color blocks are added between the moving zigzag lines, and the interlacing and moving of points and lines are combined to form the light and shade on the picture, further forming a sharp and slow world like notes; The melody of ups and downs, constitute the space of virtual and real interlaced. Chu Teh-Chun’s composition is never limited to the real space, but refines, disassembles and reorganizes the real landscape, integrates the charm and artistic conception of Chinese ink landscape painting into the minimalist form, and the bright light and gorgeous strong color reveal the artist’s inner emotion.
As Chu Teh-Chun put it, “I, of Han nationality, is aware of a special mission: to reproduce the two fundamental philosophical elements in the Book of Changes. ‘Yang’ is a symbol of warmth and light, and “Yin” a symbol of gloominess and moisture. I want to integrate the traditional colors in Western paintings and the free forms of abstract paintings to show the boundless cosmos resulting from the combination of the two elements. Nature is my sole source of inspiration. Creating a lyrical and poetic meaning is the purpose of my expression. The creation takes place spontaneously, just like the so-called “speaking the mind” in Taoism. The colors and lines in the creation is never accidental. These combine to achieve the same purpose – inspiring the light source and awakening image and rhythm.” The Composition No. 338 shows Chu Teh-Chun’s concept of blending Eastern and Western art. The painting presents the concept of opposition of yin-yang and mutual relation in the description of color and light. It also contributes to the connotation of abstract painting in the dimensions of space and time. The organic cooperation of the “two elements” forms a new universal order. The care for man and the universe as well as the oriental style in the painting bring an international perspective to Chu Teh-Chun’s art.