Ay Tjoe Christine
- Ay Tjoe Christine
- Verso Of The Landscape
- Sigend and dated 09; signed, titled and dated 2009 on the reverse
- Acrylic on canvas
The artist is known for her use of bright colours that are an explosion of pigment within the narratives. Many of the paintings have found their voices in “warm” hues, such as reds and oranges, the colours given precedence amidst the multi-hued din that has come to define the paintings. Though the works, We Made the Red Path (Ref. 1) and Layer as a Hiding Place (Ref. 2), were painted three years a part, the paintings emphasize the artist’s affinity for certain colours that are repeated throughout her oeuvre. “[Both colours are seen as] “hot”, gives back light, and sits at the centre of one’s chi (cosmic or vital energy)”1, and thus Christine’s continued use of them reflects the foundations of the artist’s personal history.
In this context, the present painting Verso of the Landscape is curiously “quiet” in mood, for the colours inhabit one part of the canvas, while the rest of the painting remains bare. Colours such as red and yellow gravitate to specific parts of the work, and are noticeably restrained in temperament. It is the nebulous formation of white, however, that presides over the narrative, illuminating the landscape and teasing the viewer’s sight with its enigmatic meaning. German philosopher Goethe said, “Colours are the deeds and sufferings of light”2, and this thinking may be applied to Christine’s relationship with colour as well. If a poet embraces language as means to convey their inner desires, Christine has sought the company of colours to ground her psyche within the two-dimensional reality of painting.
Slightly voyeuristic in content, Verso of the Landscape is an animated depiction of the artist’s emotions laid bare upon the canvas. Art critics have said that “at some stage [in her career] she began probing into the self, exploring the duality of the self, [and] as she matured, she increasingly showed emotional depth with works revealing her struggling soul”3. By subjecting herself as such within the dynamics of the artist and audience relationship, this deliberate show of vulnerability provides the present work with a certain allure, as if a secret is being divulged with only certain parties allowed to share in the intimacy of that moment.
Throughout Christine’s oeuvre there is an undeniable beauty in the chosen aesthetics of colours layered upon one another, creating a labyrinth of hues that have seemingly no entry or exit. “It is interesting to see how she blurs the ego by concealing the faces or identities in [the works] that now appear in layered meanings”4, and this is noticeably so with Christine’s portrayal of the young boy in Verso of the Landscape. The boy’s body appears to briefly escape from the coloured mass, his arm reaching outwards, before body and soul are swallowed up once more. Painted the same year, Layer and Layer (Ref. 3) shares similar properties, the colours are an extension of the artist’s self, the many layers of paint hinting at the complexities that make up a single human life. As Albert Camus once wrote, “Everything that exalts life at the same time increases its absurdity”5.
A person’s mind knows no limits, with the imagination the only authority, and it can be implied that Christine’s paintings are a visual exploration of that world. Throughout her oeuvre, the artist uses herself as a guide to reveal the mysteries hidden within every individual. “I see things around me constantly, like a shadow observer. What [are the things] around you that [are] the most important, [do] you think? What I see, I try to remember. It’s a very organic, fluid process”6, Ay Tjoe Christine said.
1. Alexander Theroux, The Secondary Colors: Three Essays, An Owl Book: Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1996, p. 1.
2. Refer to 1, p. xx
3. Carla Bianpoen, "Ay Tjoe Christine: From Stress to the Sublime", The Jakarta Post, Life Section, October 28 2007,http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2007/10/28/ay-tjoe-christine-stress-sublime.html
4. Refer to 3.
5. Albert Camus, The Sea Close By, Penguin Classics, London, 2013, p. 22.
6. Eugent Quek, Interview: Christine Ay Tjoe, Luxury Insider, Features, 2012, p.4,http://www.luxury-insider.com/features/2012/interview-christine-ay-tjoe?page=4