STYLE INSIDER: YING YUE LI
Ying is a native Hong Konger but spent most of her time previously living in New York. After studying Art History and literature at university, she is now working in Sales & Press Relations at Simon Lee Gallery (who are a blue chip Western conceptual art gallery with spaces in London, Hong Kong and New York) in their Hong Kong branch. A fan of Frieda Kahlo, Ying dressed up as her at a fancy dress party once!
What are you working on for Art Basel Hong Kong this year?
We will kick off Basel with a major American artist Mel Bochner, showing his iconic oil on velvet “Blah Blah Blah” paintings, they encapsulate his fascination with language and colour, the pieces seem particularly apt in this age of social media.
What was your first memory of feeling moved by Art?
My creative sensibilities partly evolved from the books of fantastic children’s authors such as Maurice Sendak and Chris Van Allsburg. Chris Van Allsburg’s illustrations are surreal, elegant, depicting uncontrollable events and the darker side of human nature.
Which Art personality’s wardrobe would you love to see on HULA and why?
The embroidered blouses and long skirts of Frida Kahlo’s traditional dress. Her signature style, inspired by the matriarchal community of Tehuana, was her way of making a political statement and expressing her pride in indigenous Mexican culture. While the flowered headbands, vibrant skirts and chandelier earrings were bold and beautiful, I should say that it was also a shield, to cover many scars she had from polio and a tragic bus accident as a teenager. Within her work Kahlo was constantly remaking and layering her own identity. I actually dressed up as Frida at a fancy dress party before!
How do you think fashion and art co-exist?
I love the ways fashion and art, (especially in the last century such as the Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali creations), can tie together in innovation, provocation, the pushing of boundaries. Fashion designers who are in my eyes creating art include Rei Kawakubo of Comme Des Garçons as she is evolutionary in her avant-garde designs and ability to challenge conventional notions of beauty and “fashionability”. I am also drawn to the elegant punk of Japanese cult designer Jun Takahashi of Undercover — he did a knockout Fall/Winter collaboration with Belgian painter Michaël Borremans — wearable yet unusually nuanced like a classic fishtail parka with a silkscreen of a full length figure from Borreman’s sombre and unsettling paintings.
Which emerging artist interests you right now?
A favourite of mine is the collage paintings of Njideka Akunyili Crosby. She paints meticulous compositions of familial scenes — intimate perspectives on American and Nigerian life, and the surfaces are animated with images of Nigerian pop stars and government figures alongside family photos. Another interesting artist gaining recognition is Eric Mack — he incorporates found objects on painted wall-mounted fabrics and quilts, often becoming immersive painted environments that explore ideas of re-use, and bring up issues of how context or setting of materials influences identity and value.