Christine Ay Tjoe @ White Cube

I stumbled upon a photograph of Christine Ay Tjoe’s exhibition at White Cube on instagram by accident and knew instantly that I had to visit. The colours in her work and the way they fall across the canvas look strikingly similar to Cy Twombly’s work, but there is a kind different energy splattered across the images that isn’t so gentle.

The works in the show are all abstract manifestations of pinks and blues on white and cream backgrounds. There are 12 large canvases spread sparsely across a large gallery, giving the viewer the space to take in the paintings from a variety of distances and angles.

Ay Tjoe is an Indonesian artist; with this being her first solo show in the UK. In an interview she has stated that her artwork represents her view of human interest from different angles – a display of what people would do if they were invisible. At some points it seems as though fish are bleeding out of the paintings. I am almost certain that I saw a blow-fish, perhaps this represents an attempt to escape, or maybe it relates to the waters surrounding Indonesia.

At first glance, the paintings are attractive bursts of oil paint across clean canvases, but the viewer only has to find out the titles of the images to realise that they have more layers beyond the surface. One work has been given the title ‘Demonic Possession’, which transforms pleasant pinks into bloody reds, scratches and bruises. Another notable work is ‘Concealer Player’, a diptych which moves from cool, watery ocean blues on the left side to concentrated pinks and greens on the other.

This exhibition is a fascinating display of colour and emotion. There is also a striking exhibition of Raqib Shaw’s work running concurrently at White Cube that I encourage everyone to see.

Christine Ay Tjoe: Inside the White Cube is on display at White Cube Bermondsey until 11 September

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier aka Gallery Girl is a writer and curator based in London. Her work has been featured in publications including Dazed, Hyperallergic and Vogue Arabia. She was curator of Perpetual Movement during AWAN Festival 2018 and in 2019 had a residency at the Lab at Darat Al Funun in Amman, Jordan. She has also worked with Armenia Art Fair for its inaugural edition and previously worked as an editor at I.B.Tauris Publishers. In 2019 she co-founded Arsheef, Yemen’s first contemporary art gallery. She has given workshops at Manara Culture in Amman, Jordan and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK. As of 2020 she is currently in law school, with the ambition of greater understanding the intersection between art and the law.

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