Christine Ay Tjoe - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Wednesday, July 8, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection
    Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 5 April 2014, lot 139
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    With a kaleidoscopic labyrinth of textures and colours that ebb and flow across the canvas, Layer as a Hiding Place is an exquisite piece from Christine Ay Tjoe’s celebrated oeuvre. Ay Tjoe is internationally recognised as Indonesia’s most prominent female contemporary artist, and this work embodies the candid depths of raw emotion and vulnerability that are hallmarks of her practice.

    Willem de Kooning
    Woman I, 1950-1952
    Collection of MoMa, New York
    © 2019 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/ Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

    Ay Tjoe’s early training as a graphic artist helped her to master many unconventional mediums, including intaglio drypoint printing and etching. Though Ay Tjoe moved onto painting in her now signature medium of oil bar on canvas, the influence of her early training survives in the graphic and structural feel to her works. Layer as a Hiding Place demonstrates Ay Tjoe’s innate understanding of the relationship between line, space and colour as each brushstroke takes on a character and life of its own. She paints in a spontaneous and intuitive - almost spiritual - way, using strong, charged colours that connect with the viewer’s most powerful emotions and deepest fears. The grand scale of Layer as a Hiding Place showcases bold, luscious shades of ruby-red flirtatiously overlapped by delicate translucent strokes of white paint and watery blue that pursue each other in an infinite game of hide-and-seek. Simultaneously, smudged back areas reveal ominous, darker tones rising from beneath.

    Cecily Brown
    Untitled #74, 2008
    Phillips, Hong Kong, 25 November 2018, lot 2
    The artist aptly describes her compositions as ‘layers which are seen and unseen’, explaining that ‘it’s how I see people merge in society; you see people and they look lovely but there are layers hidden underneath’. (Christine Ay Tjoe, quoted in ‘Now Showing: Christine Ay Tjoe, Inside the White Cube’, ELEPHANT, 15 July 2016, online). Characters and creatures form spontaneously between the lines of her paintings, and Ay Tjoe’s canvases harness these creations to speak of the battles between existential struggles and supernatural forces.

    Her rich, multi-layered aesthetic recalls the bravura of the esteemed Abstract Expressionist Willem de Kooning. But whereas de Kooning's somewhat vulgar abstract portraits of vampish females objectify their subjects with aggressive, thick swathes of paint (in particular his notorious Woman series), Ay Tjoe's powerful yet delicate abstractions arrest the viewer with an emotional depth and rawness that speaks to the universality of human experience. Cecily Brown is another notable post-Abstract Expressionist female contemporary whose practice counters the movement's fierce masculinity, to whom Ay Tjoe has drawn comparisons. Yet where Brown is cool and even distant in her approach to abstraction, these works exude an unabashed, sensuous passion that is distinctly feminine.

    In 2016, White Cube gallery held its first exhibition of Ay Tjoe’s work in London. In 2017 her canvas Small Flies and Other Wings (2013) was sold at Phillips Hong Kong for HKD 11,720,000 (USD 1.5 million). Having now been honoured with solo exhibitions at a variety of prestigious venues around the world, including a major mid-career retrospective at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan (2018), Ay Tjoe’s position has been confirmed as a leading abstract artist of her generation.


Layer as a Hiding Place

signed and dated 'Christine. 13' lower right; further signed and dated 'ay tjoe Christine 2013' on the reverse
oil on canvas
180 x 200 cm. (70 7/8 x 78 3/4 in.)
Painted in 2013.

HK$4,000,000 - 6,000,000 

Sold for HK$6,750,000

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Evening Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

+852 2318 2026

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 8 July 2020