Lot 1097
  • 1097

Christine Ay Tjoe

600,000 - 800,000 HKD
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  • Christine Ay Tjoe
  • Black Number 1
  • Signed; Signed, titled, inscribed, and dated 2014 on the reverse
  • Oil on canvas


London, Saatchi Gallery, On Abstraction by Gede Mahendra & Ay Tjoe Christine, June 26- 29, 2014.


This work is in very good overall condition as viewed. Unframed, on a stretcher.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

In a contemporary creative paradigm it should be said that women artists rarely match their male counterparts in numbers. When placed into a Southeast Asian context the numbers become even smaller. Two individuals who have established themselves in the region are Indonesian artist Ay Tjoe Christine and Singaporean artist Jane Lee. Curiously both women prefer Abstract Art, finding the art genre to release them of their female roles, and allowing them to express their emotions more articulately.

Black Number 1 and Plentiful are works that try to do away with the sexuality of their owners, and instead focus on the creative spirit that has been let loose within their own unique narratives. Both women are deliberate with what they choose to create, concentrating on how the paints and canvases merge together to form an intimate dialogue between the artist and the  audience.

Ay Tjoe is well known for her paintings that are a personal analysis of her emotions at a certain date and time. Each work is awash in colors and brushstrokes that reveal the state of being that the artist was in a specific moment. “I think that tradition, culture, and social norms here in Indonesia are strong. I work as an artist not to mess with those values, but because I need them, and I use them,” she said1. The present work is a recent addition to her oeuvre, and is reflective of her growth as an individual and artist. Especially raw in subject matter, her works are never a random display of emotions. Rather like a conversation with an intimate friend, the paintings are a dialogue between herself and the viewer, personal truths unveiled and confident that those who listen are without judgment nor ill intention. Therefore like a diary that contains the inner workings of the author, her paintings are a revealing look at her vulnerabilities and angst as a human being.

Conversely, Jane Lee is similar in her approach of unifying her internal, shadow self with the public role of an artist. Many of the works learn towards sculpture, the thick impastos meticulously layered upon one another that soon take on a three-dimensional shape upon the canvas. Akin with womanhood that abides to certain principles in society’s hierarchy of gender, her paintings may allude to this restructuring of the physical shape within the ambiguous narrative that contains it. "My paintings are moving more into site-specific installations. I’m trying to incorporate architecture, everything, into the painting. Everything gels into one. I’m trying to break the boundaries, no longer just 2D, no longer 3D, beyond that. Any possibility that I can push," she said2. Therefore Jane Lee’s paintings continue to challenge their environment by becoming something new, and subsequently something that has heart and breath in the given frameworks. 

Being an artist makes me feel fresh, alive and sets me free. In life, we experience good and bad things and recognise changes. These patterns in life make me believe that life itself is like a playground and every event that happens is just like part of a game. Similarly, the process of art making provides me a bigger playground to live life full heartily and it can be done with much fun. I think artists are the masterminds of their own game: they set the rules, break the rules, invent and reinvent their own creation, yet are at the same time critical about their subject matter,” Jane Lee said3.

Though they may not wish to define themselves as female artists, it can be implied that the rest of the region perceives them as such, and therefore tries to engage with the artworks in this nature. However, this distracts from the authenticity of the paintings if they are seen through such a gender-confined paradigm. The genius of their oeuvres is that they strive to breakdown contemporary art forms, and rebuild them within their own inherently personal ideologies. "As far as I know, what I do and create, including my works, will shape my identity in the future," Ay Tjoe said4.

Of her paintings and their underlining message, the Indonesian artist explained it as such: “I’m very concerned about the universal human experience in this age of globalization and fast-paced living, and I try to explore these conceptual dialogues in my artwork. I want my art to make the viewer feel comfort, peace and serenity. They are like modern-day parables, almost.”5

Black Number 1 and Plentiful may be seen as a deconstruction of feminine ideals, the works a study of artistic theory that trumps physical boundaries. Through the visual tools of Abstract Art, both women are able to apply their own histories into the works' distinct narratives. "I want to believe that life is a celebration and I want to live my life as cheerfully as possible. My art is not about sadness; it aims to delight people’s hearts. Through my approach in art, I wish viewers can see light in whatever they do, and feel a sense of joy, happiness and hope," Jane Lee said6.

1 Christine AY Tjoe, Interview with Taba Sanchabakhtiar, 2010

2 http://theartling.tumblr.com/post/116988578339/interview-with-jane-lee

3 http://www.indesignlive.sg/articles/people/jane-lee-beyond-the-canvas

4 Refer to 1

5 Christine AY Tjoe, Interview with Luxury Insider, 2012 January

6 Refer to 3