Christine Ay Tjoe

Christine Ay Tjoe was born in 1973 in Bandung, Indonesia, where she studied and continues to live and work. Her work has been exhibited and featured internationally, including at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan (2018); Hall Art Foundation in Derneburg, Germany (2022); 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, Italy (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).
January 10, 2024
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Tell us about your practice.
My journey in art began with graphic art using the drypoint technique, where I learned to consistently print my work for multiple editions. Later, I explored other mediums, such as creating soft sculptures with thin fabrics and thread, transitioning to canvas for larger-sized works, and experimenting with copper plates – the size of which depended on the printing machine. I also delved into using a typewriter machine. My interest in these practices dates back to my childhood when I enjoyed making drawings, dolls, jewelry, and more.
You’ve mentioned treating “every medium as paper and pencil.” How does that play into your process?
I consider every medium a close companion, appreciating them as foundational tools akin to paper and pencil – as they are the easiest materials for me to work with. This perspective helps me navigate and become familiar with different mediums quickly. Sometimes, when canvas and oil bars prove inadequate, I feel the need to express my thoughts through alternative mediums.
Color, whether appearing in a work or intentionally withheld, seems as crucial as the mark-making itself. How does that factor into your current practice? Do you allow yourself space to play?
I am drawn to the grey color in pencils and black ink as a medium. For several years, my color palette has predominantly featured black, grey, and white. Other colors seldom appear by themselves, as they are usually mixed with black or white. When I started using oil bars, the tactile aspect of the medium felt like an opportunity to explore a variety of colors, as the texture felt warm and pleasant to touch and rub. In some series of my works, colors emerge intuitively along the process, each having its authority and role in conveying a message.
Can you elaborate on the ideas you are exploring with your latest body of work, Lesser Numerator?
“Lesser Numerator” encapsulates the concept of embracing minimalism, accepting only what is necessary, and leaving opportunities or portions for others.
How has your work evolved in this particular body of work compared to the previous one?
The inspiration for this new body of work arose during the post-pandemic phase. In contrast to my previous work, which focused on the Cryptobiosis system during the pandemic, I now perceive another level of life. It is an honor to envision something better emerging after the pandemic, guided by our minds and hearts, providing opportunities for self-improvement as human beings.
What has been inspiring you?
Recently, I’ve been inspired by our ability to discover and cultivate joy, pleasure, and inspiration within ourselves–recognizing the substantial, frequent, and transformative impact it can have, propelling us toward the next stage. 
In my interactions, I’ve observed that many people exhibit attitudes that can be highly consumptive, selfish, rude, and demanding. However, amidst these, some are dedicated and attentive. Maturing involves processing these challenging attitudes and developing personal frameworks to counterbalance them with comfort and care.

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