MAI TRUNG THU (1906-1980)

Lot 3
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Estimation :
300000 - 500000 EUR
Result with fees
Result : 718 160EUR
MAI TRUNG THU (1906-1980)

La cérémonie du thé, 1971

Ink and color on silk, signed and dated upper left. In the original frame made by the artist

55.8 x 55.8 cm - 22 x 22 in.


Born in 1906 near Haïphong, Mai Trung Thu attended the French high school in Hanoi.

Like Le Pho, Vu Cao Dam and Le Van De, he was a member of the first class of the Indochina School of Fine Arts, founded and directed by the painter Victor Tardieu. Invited to participate in the 1931 Colonial Exhibition, Mai Thu discovered France. Falling under the spell, he settled there in 1937 and remained until the end of his life. Although he was strongly influenced by the artistic education he received from Tardieu and Joseph Inguimberty, he was the one of his comrades who retained the deepest Vietnamese identity.

Mai Thu devoted himself to gouache or ink on silk, typically Asian processes that allowed him to develop an art rich in reminiscence of traditional Chinese and Vietnamese art. As an independent artist, he is no less committed and concerned about the future of his country.

An ancestral tradition par excellence, Gong Fu Cha, which could be translated «the art of taking time for tea» illustrates the richness of Chinese culture. A ritual that inspired the famous Japanese tea ceremony, Gong Fu Cha codifies the preparation of tea as well as its service. A moment of sharing and serenity, Mai Thrung Thu wonderfully illustrates this Confucian perception in Cérémonie du thé. The essential elements of tea preparation are brought together and meticulously represented: the porcelain service composed of its teapot and small cups, but also the wooden tea boat and the stove.

While this representation of the art of tea is particularly delicate, it also illustrates another strong Far Eastern value: the family. Several generations make up this work and remind us of the importance of the family structure. While the reading of this work is based on two pillars of the artist’s native culture, he also manages to infuse it with multiple Western references. Indeed, strengthened by his apprenticeship at the Hanoi School of Fine Arts, but also impregnated with the European techniques that he can admire daily, Mai Thrung Thu takes up the know-how of his adopted continent. Thus, the folds of the traditional outfits are reminiscent of the wet drapery of classical Greek art, while the separation of the planes evokes the portraits of the Renaissance. The skillfully chosen tones discreetly echo each other and form a joyful composition. The exhibition of this work in 1971 at the Galerie Jacques Doucet testifies to the recognition of the artist’s talent by his adopted country.

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