Asian Art London

During Asian Art London, Aktis Gallery presents an exhibition dedicated to the three leading modern and contemporary Chinese émigré artists : Chu Teh-Chun, Zao Wou-Ki, and Gao Xingjian from 30th October until 8th November 2014. Paintings and watercolours by Chu Teh-Chun and Zao Wou-Ki will be exhibited alongside works by Gao Xingjian.
The gallery also organises Gao Xingjian's film screening "Le Deuil de la Beauté" on November 6th at 6pm in the presence of the artist.

Aktis Gallery is dedicated to Modern art, with a focus on Chinese and Russian émigré artists working in Paris during the second half of the 20th century. Specialising in lyrical abstract paintings and non-conformist art of the Soviet era, the gallery also houses a growing inventory of works by renowned Chinese artists, Chu Teh Chun, Zao Wou Ki and Gao Xingjian.

China Art Management's director has been working with Aktis gallery since 2012 on various projects related to Chinese art, providing consulting and management services and assisting the gallery to communicate with Chinese clients and audience.

About the artists

Zao Wou-Ki:

His paintings can be described as a blend between classical Chinese landscape painting and Western abstraction. Born in Beijing, he studied art at the School of Fine Arts, Hangzhou, and his early work was influenced by Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso. In 1948, on the eve of the Chinese revolution, he left China and settled in Paris and was soon immersed in the Paris avant-garde of the time. Under the influence of Paul Klee he embraced abstraction. In his own work he marries abstraction and traditional Chinese calligraphy to produce poetic and moody compositions, which are often interpreted as landscapes.

Zao Wou-Ki’s first retrospective was held in 1965 at the Folkwang Museum Essen, Germany, and he was subsequently recognised with major exhibitions at the Grand Palais in Paris in 1981, the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume (2003) and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (2008). Zao Wou-Ki died in April 2013 and examples of his work are in important museums worldwide including Tate, MoMA New York, and the Guggenheim Museum New York.

Chu Teh-Chun:

Like Zao Wou-Ki, Chu Teh-Chun studied at the School of Fine Arts, Hangzhou under Lin Fengmian, a French-trained painter who sought to reconcile Chinese aesthetics with Europe’s modern art movement.

In 1949, following the outbreak of the Chinese revolution, he went to Taipei, Taiwan, where he taught Western painting techniques. Travelling to Europe in 1955, Chu Teh-Chun settled in Paris where, after seeing the Nicholas de Stael retrospective, he pursued a more abstract style in his paintings, though like Zao Wou-Ki, maintained elements of traditional Chinese landscape and calligraphic painting, which became more pronounced after the artist began to return to China in the 1980s.

Chu Teh-Chun has exhibited with a number of galleries in Paris, and in prestigious events in Pittsburgh, Jerusalem, Athens and at the 10th Sao Paulo Biennale in 1969. He is represented in numerous French museum collections and also in China, where the Guangdong Museum of Art in Canton, and the Shanghai Museum of Art have examples of his work. In October 2012, Bloomberg News rated him as no 7 in the world’s 17 hottest artists.

Gao Xingjian:

Featured in the show, Le Deuil de la beaut, Gao Xingjian’s new film is described as a cinematic poem; an experimental, long-feature film that criticizes today’s consumer society overwhelmed by the noise of advertising, politics and the market. Avoiding narrative and fiction, with only minimal dialogue, Le Deuil de la beauté is as free as the poetry itself, without limitations; Gao Xingjian considers art to be like thought, free. Using film as a total art form with the capacity to encompass all artistic expressions, this film ultimately seeks a return to pure artistic creation and this film calls for artists to return to creation in order to find beauty.

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, 2000, Chinese émigré novelist, playwright and poet, Gao Xingjian is Chinese-born, but was exiled to Paris in 1988 after he came into conflict with the Communist authorities. He was quickly denounced as a subversive and all of his literary and theoretical works were banned by China including ‘Soul Mountain’, his Nobel Prize winning book.

The political turmoil witnessed in his early years directly impacted his literary career, which saw fragments of painful buried memories re-surface as an expression of his experience of political totalitarianism. By contrast, his artwork, although born during these painful years in China, is not explicitly bound by his personal experiences. On the contrary, painting, as an act of pure vision allows a separation from reality, which requires openness and freedom. Often working in brush and black ink he continually restores and re-invents with reference to the literati tradition of calligraphy, which preserves the artist’s Chinese roots in his paintings; he introduces abstraction as a device to free the work from literary reference.