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‘The Black Side’: A Solo Exhibition by Christine Ay Tjoe

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‘The Black Side’: A Solo Exhibition by Christine Ay Tjoe
Ay Tjoe Christine, Freezing 01, 2017-2018, oil on canvas, 170 x 200 cm © Ay Tjoe Christine, Courtesy of the artist and Ota Fine Arts

Ota Fine Arts Shanghai presents ‘The Black Side’, a solo exhibition by Christine Ay Tjoe, one of Southeast Asia’s most prominent female painters. This exhibition sees Ay Tjoe presenting two new paintings, along with four other paintings from her retrospective exhibition held at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan.

Distinctly noted in Ay Tjoe’s works are their layers of bold, dynamic streaks. Whilst spontaneous, they also exude precision. Colourful shapes and stains fill the canvas; these are created by first applying paint and then rubbing back to reveal the layer beneath. Elsewhere, colour is scratched away to reveal the underlying layer. This repetitive process accumulates in forms that often blur the lines between a figurative style and abstract expressionism.

“The Black Side”, 2018, Ota Fine Arts Shanghai
Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Photography by Zhang Hong

Ay Tjoe first began her career working with the intaglio drypoint printmaking technique. In 2009, she started experimenting with the oil bar and continues to use it expansively today. The oil bar medium has allowed her to create expressive and gestural lines whilst still maintaining the ‘language of drawing’ on each canvas. Animal creatures and parts of the human body are often littered across the canvas. Their simultaneous appearance on the canvas resonates with Ay Tjoe’s belief that there are dual sides to every human being – the inner beast and the outer human, the evil and kind, the vulnerable and the strong. She explores the duality of human life through either imagined narratives or by conveying the inner emotions she herself has experienced, be it pain, struggle, happiness, anger, grief, and so on. Through the layers, viewers get a glimpse into both her personal and social worlds as she subtly reveals themes pertaining to the milestones in life, political upheavals and injustices, and the religious journey that she encounters.

Ay Tjoe Christine, Freezing 01, 2017-2018, oil on canvas, 170 x 200 cm 
Ay Tjoe Christine, Freezing the Black 02, 2017-2018, oil on canvas, 200 x 360 cm 
© Ay Tjoe Christine, Courtesy of the artist and Ota Fine Arts

In ‘The Black Side’, Ay Tjoe delves into the complexity of human relations to depict the brutal sides of human emotions in society today. The dominant black strokes and dark colours in her works hint at her bleak outlook towards contemporary society. Contrastingly, the towering height of ‘Freezing the Black 01’ and the expansive width of ‘Freezing the Black 02’ reveal a certain helplessness in the face of overwhelming sovereign power. Yet, Ay Tjoe does not judge the world we live in today but instead, leaves it open to the interpretation of her viewers.

The use of negative spaces is characteristic of Ay Tjoe’s paintings. Perfect balances are achieved with soft greys and beige, creating fascinating harmonies with colourful forms and shapes. This “pared-back and differentiated” style of painting has allowed Ay Tjoe to stand out amongst her contemporaries within Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Ota Fine Arts states how they hope that by presenting ‘The Black Side’, “viewers experience Ay Tjoe’s distinctive style of painting and her innovative approach in expressing her micro and macro encounters with the world we live in”.

‘The Black Side’ is on show at Ota Fine Arts Shanghai until 31 October 2018
To find out more, click here.


Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.



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