HONG KONG.- Sothebys
Modern Asian Art Department has been entrusted by Mr. Johnson Chang Tsong-Zung, director of Hanart TZ Gallery, to present Embodying The Dao of Martial Arts Important Sculptures by Ju Ming from the Collection of Johnson Chang Tsong-Zung, featuring 26 works by the celebrated Taiwanese sculptor Ju Ming from Changs private collection. Since the early 1980s, Chang has been a key figure in promoting Ju Mings art in Hong Kong and abroad, organising many of the artists important exhibitions around the world. To be offered in the Modern and Contemporary Asian Art Evening Sale on 4 October as part of the Hong Kong Autumn Sale Series 2015, Embodying The Dao of Martial Arts is comprised of Changs personal collection of Ju Mings sculptures covering his decades long oeuvre, including works from the Taichi series and Living World series, as well as those depicting village life and farm animals both popular motifs from his Native Culture period. Partial proceeds from the sale will be donated to Asia Art Archive and Moonchu Foundation.
Mr. Johnson Chang Tsong-Zung said: As early as the 1970s, Ju Ming caught my eye. His treatment of folk subjects elevated them, linking them to the literati xieyi style and creating a new form of art deeply rooted in Chinese tradition. In this sense, Ju Mings Taichi series not only serves as an icon for modern Chinese art, but was also the vehicle that profoundly transformed the traditional figures of folk gods into something universal, representing the two forces of yin and yang. Taking a two-decades-long journey together as artist and curator, from the earliest emergence of his art to his establishment as one the international art worlds leading figures, has been an experience gratifying beyond words.
Vinci Chang, Sothebys Head of Modern Asian Art Department, said: We are delighted to work together with Mr. Johnson Chang Tsong-Zung, to present to the market his collection of important Ju Ming sculptures this autumn. His collection encompasses master works across various periods, series and media, and is impeccable in its depth, breadth and quality. We look forward to showcasing Ju Mings oeuvre in a comprehensive manner, and to sharing the beauty of the masters sculptures with fellow collectors and art lovers alike.
Embodying The Dao of Martial Arts A Comprehensive View of Changs Collection of Ju Ming Sculptures
Chinese tradition praises the poet-warrior who has the ability to excel in both Wen and Wu. If Wen refers to the enlightenment of ethics-based humanities, then Wu reflects on the spirit of martial arts, which emphasises introspection, with the pursuit of transcending the self as the ultimate goal. Ju Mings sculptures embody the aesthetics of martial arts through a process of unceasing self-transcendence. He saw martial virtue as an aesthetic object, using sculpture to transform the dynamic state of Kung Fu into static imagery, transforming the beholders understanding and imagination of combat into a transcendent artistic experience.
Ju Ming was born into a peasant family in Miaoli, Taiwan in 1938. With only primary school qualification, he began studying traditional carving with Lee Chin-Chuan in the 1950s. His apprenticeship lasted for more than three years. In the late 1950s, Ju Ming briefly established a workshop producing traditional carvings for export. The 1970s witnessed a rise of the native culture movement, where the Taiwanese art scene began to resonate with rural literature. Ju Ming rose to prominence at that time, becoming the representative artist for rural art. In 1968, he fulfilled his long-cherished wish to apprentice himself to Yuyu Yang, marking the beginning of his exceptional artistic career.
Chang came to know about Ju Ming for the first time in 1976, when he read about the artists exhibition in the National Museum of History in Taipei in a magazine. Chang deeply appreciated Ju Mings works, and from 1982 to 2006 he tirelessly curated almost all Ju Ming exhibitions organized outside of Taiwan, many of which had played critical role in positioning Ju Ming on the international art scene. In particular, Chang spearheaded shows at Hong Kongs Exchange Square and National Gallery Singapore in 1986, Londons Southbank Cultural Centre in 1991, Japans Hakone Open-Air Museum in 1995, Paris Place Vendôme in 1997, and East Berlins Unter den Linden in 2003. Ju Ming once said that it was Chang, who was also his agent at the time, whom he must thank for his success overseas.
Taichi Series: Single Whip
1994, bronze, edition 3/8, 122.5 x 189 x 90 cm
Est. HK$5 7 million / US$641,000 897,000
Ju Ming employed a bold and resolute approach when creating his large-scale Taichi series sculptures in the 1990s. This is evident in the strength of the works surfaces, which emphasise the structure of the human body. Subtle and minute movements are discernible within the massive sculptures. One work that possesses this sense of movement is Taichi Series: Single Whip, which portrays a Taichi practitioner in the midst of squatting, turning, and rising again with a bent leg. Ju Mings rapid and precise hand lends a firm structural touch to his sculptures that contributes to their fluid dynamism and coiled sense of speed.
Taichi Series: Thrust
1995, bronze, edition 5/10, 118.5 x 142 x 95 cm
Est. HK$4 6 million / US$513,000 769,000
In the early 1980s, as Ju Mings understanding of Taichi continued to deepen, he gradually ceased to restrict himself to the portrayal of fixed poses. Instead, he began to portray the instant of a dynamic twist or turn, for which he developed in the mid-1980s prototypes for the large-scale Taichi series of sculptures that came later. Created in 1995, Taichi Series: Thrust is inspired by two prototypes. This work possesses both weight and dynamism, a result of Ju Mings evolution as an artist, which marks the apex of the Taichi series.
Taichi Series: Turn Advance
1996, bronze, edition 3/8, 179 x 115 x 134 cm
Est. HK$4.5 6.5 million / US$577,000 833,000
Forgetting is a lifelong philosophy that Ju Ming inherited from his teacher Yuyu Yang casting off techniques that he had mastered and forms that had lingered in his mind in order to continue evolving. Chang once said that reduction is the basis of Ju Mings creative methods: the reduction of physical material to reveal images contained within. One large sculpture that exemplifies this theory is Taichi Series: Turn Advance from 1996. When viewed from any angle, this work reveals a quasiabstract expression that breaks from the past.
Taichi Series: Maiden Working the Loom
1988, bronze, edition 3/20, 98 x 72 x 46 cm
Est. HK$900,000 1.2 million / US$115,000 154,000
By pursuing his path of forgetting, Ju Ming eventually achieved the highest literati ideal: the aesthetic of zhuo, which came to represent the beauty of simplicity and the pursuit of unaffected integrity. It is evident in Taichi Series: Maiden Working the Loom, where the simple lines and the abstract motion express the artists appreciation towards the zhuo ideal.
Rooster and Hen (Two Works)
L: 57.5 x 65 x 27.5 cm; R: 37 x 47 x 22.6 cm
Est. HK$700,000 900,000 / US$90,000 115,000
The Rooster and Hen wooden sculptures originate from Ju Mings experience of rural life in his youth. This lot is the larger pair of the two lots on offer. Cut using an intentionally rougher technique, the valiant and spirited rooster appears to be in the midst of announcing the start of the day in his village. Rooster and Hen returns to the most popular theme of his native culture period, reflecting the artists persisting interest in his origins.