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Translated by Ann Lee from the Taiwan blog “Elsewhere of Elsewhere”
Teh-Chun CHU (1920~) was born in China, temporarily taught in Taiwan for six years, mainly works in France. Chu was the first Chinese artist who was elected as a member of l’Academie des Beaux-Arts de France. Rouge, La Pluie de Petales sur le Village, Blanc, le Nuage Au-Dessus de la Maison (as follows), Christie’s Hong Kong sold for about US$ 3.2 million in May 2006. This year (2008), from September 19th, National Museum of History, Taiwan, will hold a two-month sole exhibition, Teh-Chun CHU 88 Retrospective. We salut to and wish the exhibition a great success.
Rouge, la pluie de petales sur le village. Blanc, le nuage au-dessus de la maison, Teh-Chun CHU 130*195cm 1960
The artist used rich colors to depict lively rhythm of light in the above-mentioned painting, which integrated stick and block-like color of Nicolas de Staël (1914-1955) into strong flow of Chinese calligraphy. The straightforward composition of this master piece has reached a perfect balance. At my first time looking at Chu's works, I was positive that his art was related to Staël. Later on, I was very glad to prove my assumption by reading Chu's own words from his album, saying that Staël’s art was so influential that Chu decided to turn to abstraction from figuration. I will compose another article regarding Staël's artwork which I deeply love.
Chu composed a few figurative paintings in his early days, then turn to exploring abstraction, such as follows, La Source, 1965. Its composition was based on traditional Chinese painting. The flow of space was expressed by colors, but calligraphy in the bottom half was slightly unnatural, which was further developed in later days.
Chu once said, “The renown Chinese painter, Kuan FAN, has mentioned “A Master’s Mind,” meaning an artwork is an expression of the artist's imagination, personality and accomplishment.” “A Master’s Mind” is in fact “Abstraction”, only at that time our ancestors didn’t use the word “abstraction.” It is fair to say that La Source is actually the abstract form of Fan's famous work, Travellers among Mountains and Streams.
La Source Teh-Chun CHU 1965
Transparence Glacier Teh-Chun CHU 1987
Pureté Originelle Teh-Chun CHU 1997
Chu’s mastery at the cross roads of abstractive mind and figurative emotion is shown in Emotion Suggérée (as follows). The artwork perfectly links Eastern mind, Western abstract skill, Chinese calligraphy and ink painting, creating a powerful, brand new personal language. Tradition lives vividly in creation, and Chu himself has become a grand tradition, who stands side by side with all great Western masters.
Emotion Suggérée shows the essence of emotion, the very natural stage, on the instant of our heartbeats, not the conclusion resulting from outside influences. Whether it is a comedy or tragedy? Perhaps it is too late by the time we realize the sensation.
Emotion Suggérée Teh-Chun CHU 1998
If we compare Chu to Sanyu, Sanyu has no such strong will of creation. Sanyu is a born-to-be, natural artist, while Chu is a master of art. They are both top tier artists, but Chu carries heavier burden of mission and sense of history. Guan-Zhong WU and Chu are both in my A+ list, so I will skip comparing the two.
In fact, to acquire aesthetic taste and to make fair critic, we need to be able to tell the minor differences between A+ artists, however, at this moment, Asian art is still in a chaos stage where running horses and milking cows are commingling in the same ranch. Our first step of work is to label these horses from cows, than we will be able to discuss who is indeed the racing horse running in the speed of light.