Lot 1058
  • 1058

CHRISTINE AY TJOE | Left Layer and Right Layer

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 HKD
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  • Christine Ay Tjoe
  • Left Layer and Right Layer
  • signed and dated 10; signed, titled and dated 2010 on the reverse
  • 180 by 200 cm; 70 3/4  by 78 3/4  in.


Sotheby's Hong Kong, 4 April 2011, Lot 230
Acquired by the present owner from the above sale
Private Asian Collection


Seoul, South Korea, Christine Ay Tjoe : Perfect Imperfection, 28 April- 20 June 2015, SongEun Art and Cultural Foundation


This work is in good overall condition as viewed. Framed.
"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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

A mesmerizing outpour of gestural bravura, Left Layer and Right Layer is a seminal example of Christine Ay Tjoe’s inspired visual lyricism and extraordinary abstract lexicon. Created during a transitional period in the artist’s life, the present painting is laden with expression and embodies some of the strongest aspects of Ay Tjoe’s practice.  Executed in an exquisitely balanced palette of bold tones and softer, pastel tints, Left Layer and Right Layer enacts a profound departure from her series of compositions often dominated by a single color. Within the various shapes, amorphous forms and enthralling lines lay the visceral revelations of Ay Tjoe’s personal journey — her inner thoughts expressed with poetic beauty. Ay Tjoe has received international recognition for her aesthetically gripping and thought-provoking pieces and is one of the most outstanding female contemporary voices in Indonesia. She studied at the Bandung Institute of Technology and formed a strong foundation in printmaking and graphic arts. While Ay Tjoe continues to work with dry-point techniques and etching, her larger paintings have gained critical acclaim for their complexity and sheer courage of emotional expression.

Powerfully articulating the full force of Ay Tjoe’s artistic process, Left Layer and Right Layer relays a web of sundry pigments and balletic movements that traverse the canvas. With her skillful use of negative space, rooted in her training in print-making, she forms a composition that is largely divided into two main “layers” or sections on either side of the a creamy, off-white surface. The “layers”, a recurring motif in Ay Tjoe’s oeuvre, convey the elaborate and entangled nature of the artist’s internal dialogue, unraveling before the viewer. The artist explains:  “Layers are like a container to keep all things that can be asserted to the unknown future” (Artistic Process of Composition: Ay Tjoe Christine Interview with Taba Sanchabakhtiar, 2010). Each “layer” is an amalgamation of different organic shapes and frenzied lines. In the present painting the forms congregate on two ends of the canvas, the left area is larger and more dominant. 


Upon viewing the present painting and its kaleidoscopic color scheme, the sheer complexity of Ay Tjoe’s visual language reveals itself. Pale, almost fading pinks, earthy rubbings of ochre seem to utter whispers of blushing confessions. These soft tones are placed against explosions of stronger, more saturated colors such as vivid green, bright yellow and intense red. The artist’s signature vermilion rupture upon the surface of the canvas in moments of passion and fervor. Most notably, an explosion of crimson red on the far left creates an outburst of emotion within the work. Yet the potency of the red is tempered by the presence of dark clouds of dark grey and cooling blues. These shifting juxtapositions are at once calculated and spontaneous, lending Left Layer and Right Layer an alluring perplexity.

In Left Layer and Right Layer, as in many of her strongest works, Ay Tjoe demonstrates impressive foresight in her process, creating points of tension and calm. Known for the forcefulness and clarity of her lines, Ay Tjoe shows an acute awareness of the emotive power of gestural abstraction. The nebula-like formations and hovering fields are accented by seemingly chaotic lines. Various methods of application such as dense scribbles of frenzy, delicate outlines and sharp cuts reveal the artist’s growing confidence in linear expression. Importantly, Ay Tjoe’s subtle use of white pigment offers moments of purity amongst the burst of color. It is as if she builds multiple dimensions within the painting through these different modes of gesture.

Ay Tjoe bestows upon viewers the power to interpret her works. We sense Ay Tjoe’s struggle, but also her relief, strength and joy within the piece. While Ay Tjoe’s works are sometimes easily characterized by a single color, the eclectic mix of colors in Left Layer and Right Layer is nuanced yet playful. The chasm between the two separate entities alludes to feelings of uncertainty, or of standing in between extremes of a person. Yet the large swelling forms on the left suggest that the dilemma is nearly over— covering the canvas in sensations of ecstasy and release. The artist’s unique aesthetic paired with her incredible willingness to delve into deep reflection, produces a body of work that continuously evolves and empowers.

The personal elements embedded in Ay Tjoe’s works are at the very core of her identity as an artist. Her vernacular is never explicit but is always tangibly felt and unmistakably palpable. She reflects: “as far as I know what I do and create, including my works, will shape my identity in the future” (Artistic Process of Composition: Ay Tjoe Christine Interview with Taba Sanchabakhtiar, 2010). Left Layer and Right Layer is a beguiling embodiment of Ay Tjoe’s technical dexterity as well as her commitment to the journey of creation and art making.