A life in costumes

A life in costumes

Hong Kong art director Tim Yip is lionised in the cinematic world and many expect him to continue to live up to his fame.

He is, after all, the first and only Asian to have won an Oscar for art direction with his lush mise en scene in the Chinese hit movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) by film-maker Ang Lee.

Other A-list auteurs such as Tsai Ming-liang and Feng Xiaogang have also sought him out to conjure compelling imaginary worlds using fine threads and sets for their silver screen productions.

But Yip, 51, has no qualms about stepping away at the peak of his game to experiment with new mediums of art.

"I have a really good reputation in movies and most people don't try new things at this stage but I don't care, I just want to find something that interests me," he tells Life! over the telephone from his studio in Beijing where he is now based.

He adds: "My character is such that I would do something I've never done before."

His quest for what is new - a word that hung on his lips throughout the hour-long interview - has spawned a body of work from costume and set designs for theatre and dance to photography and art installation.

The consummate artist continues to practise in the various disciplines.

Among his newest creations are the sublime costumes for the theatrical masterpiece A Dream Like A Dream by Taiwanese dramatist Stan Lai.

The epic eight-hour play will premiere here in February as part of the Esplanade's annual Huayi - Chinese Festival Of Arts.

The arts centre has also put together an exhibition, Rotations - The Art Of Tim Yip, that documents his body of work and includes photographs of his costumes for films, interview footage and design sketches that have never been shown in public.

The exhibition, to be launched during the Huayi festival, runs until June.

His classic and ageless costumes for Lai's play help to transport the audience through time, place and cultures as it traces the life of a Shanghai prostitute living in the 1930s who marries a French diplomat and moves to Paris.

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