Tim Yip’s costume design: ‘Reformation’ exhibition remains on view at Power Station of Art in Shanghai till Oct. 23


The starting point to Tim Yip’s exhibition is a traditional Chinese scholar’s library. Such a creative space is well established historically. The contents are revealing. There, a simple but elegant table and chair would sit in a sparse chamber. The brushes for calligraphy would be at hand, scrolls in evidence. The patterns of the windows would allow for a soft light and perhaps glimpses of a garden beyond. In this exhibition we begin in a comparable space that serves as the seat of the imagination. Here, the traditional elements are replaced with objects from the twenty-first century and from the artist’s studio. This is the place where the dreams are constructed.

The walls of the main hall are divided into three areas of projections. Directly ahead is the natural world of The Garden. This incorporates numerous views of Yu Yuan, originally established in Shanghai in the sixteenth century by a government officer from the Ming Dynasty. To the right as one enters is a wall of History, which includes photographs from many of the film productions that Tim Yip has designed. These images are combined with a sense of the specific historical development of Shanghai. The History wall represents a collective memory. To the left, the third wall represents The Street. Here the imagery begins with the dawn rising over a Chinese city and ends in the blazing abstraction of nocturnal light. This wall represents the present.


At the centre of the main space you will encounter Lili, Tim Yip’s muse and subject. Here, in gigantic form, she has become Shanghai Lili. She is the vessel that incorporates all our dreams and memories. We can observe her against the backdrop of the shifting projections. But she too is an observer. The entire space is constructed like a map of the human brain where the past, the present and the infinite natural world coexist. The zones of the imagination are presented as if drawn in a strange new cartography. The course of the exhibition is a passage from the scholar’s library to an equivalent of the interior of the imagination with Lili at its core


About the artist

A renowned artist, Tim Yip has introduced his theory of a ‘New Orientalism’, which communicates his interpretation of oriental philosophy and aesthetics to audiences around the world. Tim has multidisciplinary works in costume design and art direction, and visual and contemporary art. For his work in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Tim won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction and the British Academy Film Award for Best Costume Designer in 2001. In 2004, he was the art and costume director for the Beijing handover performance at the Olympic Games closing ceremony in Athens.

Since working on his first film A Better Tomorrow directed by John Woo in 1986, he has accomplished costume design and art direction for many films and theatrical performances over the past three decades. Tim has collaborated with film directors of international acclaim including John Woo, Ang Lee, Tsai Ming Liang, Tian Zhuangzhuang and Li Shaohong. He has also worked with renowned many theatrical groups such as Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, Contemporary Legend Theatre, Han Tang Yue-fu Dance Ensemble and others, with performances that toured China, Austria, France, USA, the UK and Singapore. His striking costume design and art direction for the theatre production Medea, television dramas Oranges Turn Ripe, Netflix series Marco Polo, and feature films Temptation of a Monk, Springtime in a Small Town and Double Vision have further attracted worldwide attention to his work.

In 2011, Tim was art director for Akram Khan’s Desh, which won both a Bessie Award for Outstanding Production and the Olivier Award. The pair have since collaborated on Until the Lions, which premiers at The Roundhouse London in January 2016, and a new production of Giselle with The English National Ballet, which will open in Manchesterin September and go to Sadler’s Wells Theatre London in November 2016. Tim has also collaborated with theatre director Robert Wilson on 1433: The Grand Voyage, with Chinese choreographer Yang Li Ping as stage and costume designer for her iconic works The Peacock and Under Siege, and with Franco Dragone on the Han Show.

In Opera, Tim is costume and stage designer for Bright Sheng’s new opera Dream of the Red Chamber, directed by Stan Lai with the San Fransisco Opera, premiering September 2016 in San Francisco. Past Operas include Rashomon, 1996, and Tristan und Isolde, 1998, both with the Buehnen Graz Opera House.

His work across media has received solo exhibitions including Faces of Time at the National Palace Museum in Taiwan and Bourges Maison de la Culture in France, Silent Passenger at Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing, Illusions of Silence at the Today Art Museum in Beijing, Rotations at the Esplanade in Singapore, and In Parallel at the Maison de la Culture D’Amiens. In photography and video art, Tim has received exhibitions in Spain – Gijon with an Eastern Glance -– China – at the JimeiXArles International Photo Festival in Xiamen – and the Pompidou Centre in Paris, where his short film The Kitchen won the ASVOFF 2015 award for Best Art Direction.

In 2005, he was invited by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to participate in the China Red Exhibition, and participated in the International Asian Art Fair held at The Park Avenue Armory, New York. In 2008, he was invited to participate in Christian Dior’s 60th anniversary exhibition, Dior & Chinese Artists. His work for Dior – Floating Leaves Garden – drew global attention to Chinese tradition in the context of high fashion. In 2009, his art on location installation was exhibited at the prestigious Yin Tai Center in Beijing.

Tim has several publications including Lost in Time, Flower of the Wind, Floating, Circulation, Rouge: L’art de Tim Yip (published in both French and English), Illusions of Silence, Passage and Silent Passenger.

About the exhibition

Dates: 2016.09.23-10.23

Venue: Power Station of Art

Courtesy of the artist and Power Station of Art, for further information please visit http://powerstationofart.com.


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