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My Monologue 3

My Monologue 3
signed and dated ‘Christine 08' (lower centre)
acrylic on canvas
135 x 135 cm. (53 1/8 x 53 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2008
Anon. Sale, Christie's Hong Kong 30 November 2008, Lot 330
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner

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Jessica Hsu
Jessica Hsu

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Lot Essay

"One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman."
– Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex
This season, Christie's is pleased to present a selection of works by some of Southeast Asia's noteworthy women artists who play a significant role in the artistic development of a regional visual artistic aesthetic, and are instrumental in creating a vibrancy within the Southeast Asian art scene. The following works are by no means an exhaustive list or an authority documenting all the practices by female artists in Southeast Asia, but a spotlight that celebrates their contributions.
Women have played a central role in Modern Southeast Asian art, often depicted in the form of Le Mayeur's seductive Balinese dancers or Hendra Gunawan's blue-skinned sirens, but they have frequently been the subject and not the author of their own representations. The following works by today's women artists from Southeast Asia are outstanding examples of the sense of personal identity and agency of each of their creators that manifest through the choice of material, subject-matter or approach taken. The simplest of gestures become complex thresholds of inner contemplation, rendering the works artefacts of the experiences of these women in the diaspora that is Southeast Asia. Malaysian artist Nadiah Bamadhaj (Lot 122) appropriates the wellknown form of Medusa – the Greek mythological monster who was punished by having her hair turned to snakes by Athena after she was raped by Zeus – in her own self-portrait. Constructed out of an overlay of hand-drawn paper cut-outs, this visual motif alludes to the injustice of a higher power, and her own experiences with the struggles faced by marginalised communities in Indonesia, where she is based. No Really, I Am Fine (Lot 122) reflects both Bamadhaj's inner world, and the cultural climate of Southeast Asia, much in the way that Marina Cruz's painted dresses are inspired by the small dresses her grandmother made for her mother and aunt, but also reveal the regional cultural value of heritage and close family ties, as well as the desire to protect them in an increased globalised world. Cast from these personal family heirlooms accidentally uncovered by Cruz, Laura in Absentia II (Lot 124) embodies culture and history through its generational lineage, much like a that of a historical artefact.
Even the fifty-two highly sculptural pieces of Jane Lee's Belong Series 1 Part A (Lot 121), which may appear to come from a formalist trajectory, are steered by Lee's own personal identity, functioning as an index of her moods and whims. Her prolific use of the colour red early in her career, also has its own relations to her homeland of Singapore, where red is often associated with nationalism. Going one step further, Indonesian artist Christine Ay Tjoe's canvases function almost like Rorschah tests, shaped almost entirely by her subjective emotions and responses to the world around her, which are dictated by her personal and social experiences. In My Monologue 3 (Lot 120), the human-like figures are depicted in her signature visual vernacular – rendered in a combination of intaglio drypoint and oilbar technique that give her work their instantly-recognisable quality – appear to either confront or perhaps acknowledge one another; nothing is entirely certain with her works, much like life itself.
On the other hand, Art Ain't All Paint (After Matthew Higgs) (Lot 123) by, arguably one of the most promising young female artists to emerge from the Philippines, Annie Cabigting, steps yet into another direction. Known for her hyper-realistic appropriations of works by other artists such as Peter Paul Rubens and Louie Cordero, she isolates these objects in her work in order to call into question our own preoccupation with the idea of its unique existence. Interestingly, as a female artist, she oftentimes chooses to re-present the works of Western male artists, which perhaps is in her own personal way of questioning: why have there been no great (Southeast Asian) women artists?
Despite all the various artistic trajectories in which these five artists work, they provide a matrix in which negotiation can happen between them, creating an entirely new space to appreciate how their unique perspectives and practices permeate the various facets of our own understanding of the contemporary world, and provide invaluable contributions to the regional cultural fabric.

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