Art runs in his blood

Updated: 2013-09-25 09:11

By Han Bingbin (China Daily)

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Art runs in his blood

Photos taken by Tim Yip feature his model, Lili, a doll. Photos Provided to China Daily

In Taiwan, he embraced his first major award for art design at the Golden Horse Film Awards for creatively and bravely shaving off Joan Chen's hair and eyebrows in Clara Law's controversial Temptation of A Monk (1993).

Even after accumulating much prestige in the literary film genre, he remained a poor artist so confused about his future that he reportedly even asked Tsui Hark once to help him with a career change. So, when Ang Lee asked him to participate in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), followed closely by an Oscar, Yip was pleasantly surprised and described the experience simply "super cool".

Yip soon shifted his focus to the Chinese mainland to work with big names such as Feng Xiaogang and John Woo in big budget costume movies like The Banquet (2006) and Red Cliff (2008).

Yip also worked as both a costume designer and art director with director Li Shaohong on three highly influential costume TV dramas. Through them, Yip was established in the heart of millions as "the master of ancient costume design" with his so-called New Orientalism aesthetics.

Now Yip's studio in the suburbs of Beijing, in curator Mark Holborn's words, is a creative laboratory and comfort zone where the artist is embedded in elements, ranging from Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) interiors to men's hats in Shanghai 1920s, which drive his productive forces.

But inside his office, Yip is surrounded by, on the couch and next to his desk, the varied figures of his silent companion, Lili - a presence that Holborn sees as a sign of the loneliness of his working life in Beijing.

"To make his work he knows he has to give up a part of himself, especially in the service of the collective act of filmmaking. Lili was to some extent the product of a need to reclaim what was his. She belongs resolutely in his world," he says.


Art runs in his blood