Auction | China Guardian (HK) Auctions Co., Ltd.
2023 Spring Auctions > Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art
Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art

Chu Teh-Chun (1920 – 2014)
Composition No. 461(Painted in 1972)

Oil on paper mounted on canvas

50.5 × 65 cm. 19 7/8 × 25 5/8 in.

Inscribed in French, signed in Chinese and English, dated and numbered on bottom right
Received as a gift from the artist by Aida Bott, Francis Bott's second wife
16 Nov 2006, Christie's London Autumn Auctions, Lot 196
28 Nov 2011, Ravenel Hong Kong Spring Auctions, Lot 31
Acquired directly by present important private Asian collector from the above

Note: Francis Bott is a representative of Art Informel and The New School of Paris. He and his wife Aida are keen friends of Chu Teh-Chun.

Within the Dark Universe, Sees the Mighty Blossom
Chu-Teh Chun's Artistic Glory in the 1970s

The rise, unity and celebration of the influential art movement, Art Informel disrupted the lineage of tradition, and fully embraced the dramatic, chaotic and gestures of expression and abstraction. Alike many artists that were allured by the group and its movements by 1956, French-Chinese artist Chu-Teh Chun was particularly captivated by the retrospective exhibition of Nicolas de Stael, and started his training and exploration journey into abstraction. Upon 2 years into his journey, Chu brought a handful of his works to several Paris galleries, introducing paintings to gallerists. It wasn't until the introduction at Galerie Legendre, in which gallerist Maurice Panier highly recognized Chu's talents, and offered a 6-year representation contract. While representation was established, Chu continued to expand his knowledge and friendship with other Art Informel representatives, such as Francis Bott and Xavier Longobardi. It was these important and insightful conversation that enlightened Chu to reach his pinnacle artistic years to come.

Composition No. 461 was completed in 1971, and noticeably marked a transition from the influence of Art Informel. The brushwork encapsulates signature of Chinese calligraphy, while the light tones depicts imagery of light, a Western-focused symbol. Combining elements from two polar cultures, the painting conveys Chu's establishment on who he is as an artist; a Chinese artist by biology, but also a French artist by cultural acceptance. On the right bottom corner, Chu notes: “Pour ma chère amie Aida amicalement,” an endearing statement for his dear friend, Bott's second wife, Aida Butt. Written in French, this speaks highly of his 15-year friendship with Francis Bott and Aida Butt. As a memory token, the complexity of the work signifies an enriched European influence, ranging from people, conversations, and culture, as well as Chu's transition to return to his Chinese roots.

The Complementary of Red and Green;
the Play of Light and Shadow

In Composition No. 461, Chu fills the background with swaths of ink-black, allowing the background to nurture the synergy and dynamisms of light and shadow, much like the dramatic effect seen in chiaroscuro. In comparing the iconoclasm and nature of the Art Informel, this certainly renders the signature of Art Informel artists, and displays the influence of Chu's trip to Amsterdam in 1969, as he was mesmerized by Rembrandt's 300th tercentenary exhibition in London. With Chu's prolific works, Composition No. 461 represents the Art Informel, and evolved the notion of aestheticism.

Within the sea of black, a brush of vibrant red enters from top left. On the right, colours of light turquoise, ruby-blue, ocher yellow and goose yellow forms around the centre. Reading from distance, the colours infer a charge of sudden movement in time and space, all racing one another. Meanwhile, spots of red appear within the cluster by the left, amongst the turquoise in pleasantry. As an entirety, Composition conveys balance and harmony in spite of ongoing foreground conflicts.

When Black Dances to the Tune of Colour and Power

In Composition No. 461, our vision immediately gazes towards the light, as the centre presents a cluster of happenings. In abstract brushwork, Chu manages to portray many sceneries in one. The lines are as swift as the wind, some as stagnant as rocks, others are horizontal like a waterfall, or a flowing waterfall. All of which strongly identifies Chu's calligraphic rhythm and demonstrates the undulations of landscapes.

Across the painting emits three powerful light source – Two radiates from the intense vermilion red and elegant mint green. The third runs deeper into the strokes of black-ink, which rhythmically follows the melody of the colour. Upon closer look, background of black is not entirely black. Rather, its shading of black originates from the painting concept of “ink in five colours”. With variations of brightness and volume of black, each stroke presents thousands of variations, which highlights the complexity, purity of ink and colour. The nature of ink demonstrates the idea of conflict and fusion, and creates a symphony of life between emptiness and reality, as well as colour and power.

Price estimate:
HKD: 900,000 – 1,500,000
USD: 114,600 – 191,100

Auction Result:
HKD: 1,200,000



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