About Ay Tjoe Christine and her latest series “The Path Less Found”
Like contemporary Chinese art, contemporary Southeast Asian art was impacted by the financial tsunami, and the interest of many collectors (notably those from Taiwan) in the Southeast Asian markets experienced a temporary cool down. However, in a similar vein to contemporary Chinese art, Southeast Asian art has come to show new promise with its group of post 70s artists. Beyond their youth, this group of post 70s artists stand out for the distinct qualities of their art, such as their pictorial language (strong pictoriality and high levels of artistry) and a broader, international vision. What’s more important is their recognition of and confidence in their cultural background. Their art does not only focus on the international or the national; rather, it narrates their cultural origins and personal tales. Not every artist who was born after 1970 falls into the group of “post 70s artists,” which primarily refers to a number of outstanding artists who manifest the values of the post 70s generation. Ay Tjoe may be the most remarkable of this group in contemporary Indonesian art. Born in 1973, she has strived as a professional artist for years. When the auction market was in full swing, she was mostly a female artist who dedicated herself to her painting rather than sought excessive spotlight. Nevertheless, after the financial tsunami and amid quieter market sentiments, Ay Tjoe has come to wider attention for her subtle, individualized style that falls between the abstract and the figural.
Ay Tjoe was born and educated in Bandung. Predominantly, the work of Bandung avant-garde artists embodies “critical thinking” and “contemporary touch” as well as the formal variety of “new media,” achieving the balance between rationality and sentimentality. For Ay Tjoe, the grooming from Bandung has nurtured her art. In her creations, especially in the experimental installations, we can see the artist’s versatility. Still, Ay Tjoe creates in the everyday realm. Her art does not revolve around the question of “contemporariness” through design and form. The artist reveals her true self, her inner feelings, and her understanding of life through spontaneous expression. She draws on the canvas with oil bars as if the material was paper, calling it the most direct expression of her touch. It may be for such individualized subjects, emotions and creative touch that Ay Tjoe has become a favourite among many “post 70s” collectors, outside of the group of longtime collectors who go for high prices. Many of these emerging collectors are young, energetic youths who have been educated overseas and speak fluent English; they have personal world views that form an alternate stream of thought in Indonesia. To these collectors, Ay Tjoe’s is a mirror in which they see the culture and identity they can relate to. In this reflection lie the collective experience and hidden codes of living in the country. It may be a bright pulsation or a simple recognition–which is to say, nostalgia for one’s homeland. It resembles indulging in one’s own music, novels and films. In Ay Tjoe’s work, the audiences see their own art, their own “beauty.”The “post 70s” collectors have confidence in their taste: the beauty of art has nothing to do with being “Westernized” or “contemporary.” An exemplary artist of her generation, Ay Tjoe’s work conveys the artist’s conviction, thought and feelings. The exhibition is titled “The Path Less Found,” and the path may be one that leads to home. In the artist’s heart, the path may be solitary or quiet, but it is not endless. As long as home exists in one’s mind, home is wherever one turns: in the sky above, before one’s eyes, on the ground beneath one’s feet. Home, or the conviction that is home to oneself, is one thought away. This exhibition features eight paintings; each represents the artist’s conviction, illuminated in varied guises in her paintings that trace the path to home.