The Hall Art Foundation is pleased to announce an exhibition by acclaimed Indonesian artist Christine Ay Tjoe to be held at Kunstmuseum Schloss Derneburg, her first solo exhibition in Germany. This survey of recent works includes a group of new and never-before seen paintings, alongside a selection of canvases representing Ay Tjoe’s output from the past seven years. Ay Tjoe’s practice is rooted in an exploration of line and the fundamental principles of drawing. Working with oil sticks, she uses her hands to rub and smear the medium onto the canvas, creating gestural, multi-layered, and intricate compositions that merge organic and abstract forms.
In 2020, Ay Tjoe began producing a series of works inspired by a metabolic state of life called cryptobiosis. Cryptobiosis refers to a period of extreme inactivity that an organism enters into as means of surviving adverse environmental conditions, resulting in the cessation of all measurable metabolic processes. Ay Tjoe relates our experience of the Covid pandemic to cryptobiosis, interpreting the enforced period of lockdown and reduced activity as an opportunity for inward reflection, reorganization and regeneration from within. “This is about the specific, rare, and beautiful ability of living things,” she has said. “Cryptobiosis offers the idea to virtually halt movement and any definite aim ahead; offering possibilities for a longer life and greater hope instead.” In works like Blue Cryptobiosis #03 (2021), an ovoid form is rendered in layers of light blues and whites, insulated in a web of tendrils, and set against a white ground.
In her newest body of work, titled Hyaluronic Pledge, Ay Tjoe depicts an imaginary organism and refers once again to cryptobiosis as a means of exploring how humans can survive and evolve under challenging conditions. She cites the example of the tardigrade, a microscopic animal that requires a thin layer of water around its body to prevent dehydration. To survive in arid environments, the tardigrade enters cryptobiosis, squeezing all the remaining water out of its body and becoming dormant until it is rehydrated and brought back to life. The title of the series, Hyaluronic Pledge, refers to hyaluronic acid, a substance that absorbs moisture from the air, holding up to 1,000 times its weight in water. Ay Tjoe draws a parallel between hyaluronic acid’s role in sustaining life and the qualities and coping strategies that emerge in each of us, allowing us to survive and grow in challenging circumstances. In describing her new paintings, Ay Tjoe also references shedding or molting – a process of transformation that she sees as a passage from death towards life, allowing animals to heal and reveal new versions of themselves. Composed of deep reds, browns, blacks and whites, Ay Tjoe’s intricate and sinewy forms now appear to be expanding, growing outwards from the center of the canvas towards the edges.
Ay Tjoe’s new paintings are complemented by examples of work from other recent series. Pleasant Breath of The Black (2018) comes from a group of works in which Ay Tjoe explores the duality of human existence and our potential for good and bad, light and dark, and how these polarities coexist and coalesce. Based on extensive drawing studies of the plants and flora around her studio in Bandung, the diptych, Pleasant Breath of The Black features one panel of highly concentrated black strokes, lines and smudges juxtaposed against a loose and airy gestural abstraction.
Christine Ay Tjoe was born in 1973 in Bandung, in West Java, Indonesia, where she continues to live and work. From 1992 to 1997, she studied printmaking and graphic art at the country’s top-ranking art school, the Bandung Institute of Technology. Through a partnership with the Braunschweig University of Art, Ay Tjoe became influenced by German graphic artists such as Horst Janssen, as well as by Indonesian artists whose work explore social themes. The importance of drawing, in particular the line, was learnt from studying printmaking and is central to her work. Ay Tjoe’s work has been the subject of a number of solo exhibitions across Asia, including a major retrospective at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa (2018). Her work has also been featured in international group exhibitions, including Asia Society Triennial, New York (2020); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2017); National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung (2012); Singapore Art Museum (2012); Fondazione Claudio Buziol, Venice (2011); Saatchi Gallery, London (2011); Shanghai Contemporary (2010); National Gallery, Jakarta (2009); Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (2005); and the 1st Beijing International Art Biennale, China National Museum of Fine Art (2003).
For more information and images, please contact the Hall Art Foundation’s administrative office at firstname.lastname@example.org.