朱德群身处巴黎的工作室，摄于2010年。2001年这位艺术家被授予法国国家荣誉军团勋章 © Jerome Huffer/Paris Match
Jannik - Grace
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我的画越趋于无形, 我就越接近中国唐宋的绘画思想。我的抽象是属于中国的, 属于中国传统的唐宋年代的山水。西方画家画中的风景是对自然的模仿, 而中国画的山水则与实景有一个距离, 是一种符号, 是一种更深的有形的自然。
Chu Teh-chun (1920-2014)
杭州国立艺术院 , 1926年
1956年，朱德群凭扎实的绘画功底，画妻子董景昭的肖像画，两次获得巴黎春季艺术奖项，作品被坊间称为“东方的蒙娜丽莎”。后来，朱德群在巴黎国立现代艺术博物馆看了抽象画家尼古拉·德·斯塔埃尔（Nicolas de Staël）的回顾展后，作出了一个非比寻常的决定：放弃具象绘画，一切从头开始。对于他而言，抽象表现主义代表自由，和中国书法的某些技法异曲同工，两者都是下笔迅速、一挥而就。
1.《中国艺术史》迈克尔·苏利文 著，徐坚 译，上海人民出版社
“Return to Nature”
"Chu Teh-Chun’s painting appears to me as a mental enigma, a theatre where moving shadows act without revealing their secret: the image leads to a perpetual Elsewhere which remains both elusive and irrevocably present.” French art critic and philosopher Pierre Restany describes his impression of Chu’s artworks.
When standing in front of Chu’s paintings, one is inevitably moved by his infusive emotions permeated upon the canvases and when viewing closer, one may find semi-abstract figures in his rhythmic brushstrokes. A mountain, lake, person or meaningless brushstrokes? Audiences are confronted with an innuendo which invites themselves to fill in the mental blank with imagination.
“Return to Nature”
Chu, born in Xiao County of Jiangsu Province (now Anhui Province) in 1920, grew an interest to art at a young age for his family influence; Chu’s father, an art connoisseur had an extensive art and poetry collection, which educated the young Chu of Chinese traditional calligraphy and ink paintings. In 1935, he was admitted into National School of Fine Arts where he studied under renowned painters Fan Ganmin and Wu Dayu, who had once claimed that “Paintings should express painters’ feelings about nature as well as reality of the universe.” Feeling and Nature became the defining components of Chu’s signature style paintings.
Having exposed to Western art early in his life, he had been fascinated by works of French masters, such as Picasso and Cezanne, that prompted him to study in Paris. Upon his arrival in the art capital of the world, Chu’s portrait of his wife, which was once referred as Mona Lisa of the East, was recognized by the French Spring Salon.
However, in the early 60s, his figurative paintings fell out of favour in the shifting European art market. Partly because of his worsened condition, he was diagnosed with aphasia, which drove him to convey himself through another vehicle – abstraction.
Chu’s artist friend Wu Guanzhong described Chu’s painting appear “like Western paintings when looking from afar, but when examined closely, they look like Chinese paintings.” His art introduced a new chapter of landscape painting, an integration of external landscape and his internal mindscape. His unique paintings are evocative of landscapes of Anhui Province, with the simplified lines still revealing traces of vertical cliffs and cloudy peaks from the natural environment that he was familiar with.
He metamorphoses elements from nature, world and universe into his paintings. Influenced Abstract Expressionism and Chinese shanshui paintings and tradition of poetry, Chu’s art crosses the bridge between East and West as well as between poetry and painting, in turn, incorporating subtle, Eastern touches into sublime landscapes.
Traveling amid Mountains and Streams, Fan Kuan
The tradition of integrating poetry and painting first began in Wei-Jin Dynasty of China, continued by Tang Dynasty poet Wang Wei and came to its height because of the Song Dynasty maestro of art and poetry Su Shi. Following the heritage of such masters, Chu’s paintings have taken inspiration from many renowned Chinese poems, especially the ones that express one’s sorrow upon leaving home and living in a foreign land, which connected deeply to his identity as an expatrait.
Trained in the highest level of calligraphy before studying in Paris, Chu had already mastered controlled spontaneity in creating. In landscape paintings, his free-flowing, unbridled calligraphic brushstrokes roam in the foreground of his paintings, while the background is enriched with radiating and vibrant colours, inspired by Western expressionist art.
The painting Autumn, featured in the current exhibition is one of Chu’s signature style paintings. The compelling, bright shade of red in the background echos vigorous emotions and passion, while the black brushstrokes in the foreground are evocative of mountains, horses or people, as one would usually would see in traditional Asian paintings. While one attempts to solve the conumdrum, one is lost in the sea of emotions, as the blazing patches of yellow and white begin to sparkle. While one is finding the answer to what is he painting, one is confronted with a second query: what is he really feeling.
He was the first Chinese member of the Academie des Beaux-Arts of France, an extraordinary accolade for any artist at the time. Together with Zao Wou-ki and Wu Guanzhong, they were famously known as the “Three Musketeers” of Chinese modernist paintings.
Chu once said in an interview that: “I paint every day. My passion and inspiration come from constantly working and endlessly creating.” He enlivened the canvases with his passion for Chinese traditional culture, Western art style and most importantly the desire to create.
澄怀味象 | 华人艺术大师系列
Return to Nature | Chinese Master's Art Works Collection
赵无极 Zao Wou-ki \ 朱德群 Chu Teh-chun
丁雄泉 Walasse Ting \ 曾海文 T’ang Haywen
策展方：WS SPACE 無 集 & 杜若云章·上海 Je Fine Art Space