I recently shot a fashion show of an amazing Amis designer named Yosifu at the
Yosifu Art Gallery in .
The gallery itself has many of his incredible works displayed featuring
distinctive aboriginal themes with lots of bright open spaces making it a relaxed
atmosphere for viewers. Taipei
When I got there, they were busy doing a rehearsal for the show. After the rehearsal I had about 45 minutes to shoot models adorning each of the dozen or so pieces before the show itself started. I made five or six shots of each before the venue started to fill up and I needed to take down the lighting setup. Quite a few Taiwanese celebrities attended the event, from singers to actors from Seediq Bale.
Yosifu's event went beyond a conventional fashion show. The fashion show included original music performances and dance performances in addition to the runway models, which all integrated into a unified theme. Yosifu is first and foremost an artist and his art integrated into the fashion offered fashion goers an artistic display on the runway.
It was a pleasure to shoot his artworks both on and off the runway. Yosifu explores social issues surrounding indigenous cultures and through his work, which I find quite fascinating. I would have liked to learn about the stories and traditional indigenous customs behind the art on the fashion pieces, but I didn't get much chance to talk to Yosifu. I will try at a later stage to discuss them with him.
Yosifu has an interesting and inspiring history. He was born in Matailing,
and is part of the Amis
tribe of aboriginal people found on the east of the island. The Amis are one of
the sixteen officially recognized indigenous groups of Taiwanese aborigines. Hualien County, Taiwan
He originally planned to be a singer, so at age 18 he formed a band with friends. They got a chance to release an album, but later were prevented from working due to a dispute between their agent and record company. Yosifu got depressed about not being able to pursue his singing career. He took a break from his troubles and visited a friend in
U.K in 1998. He was captivated by the city’s beauty and vibrant arts scene, and
he has lived in Edinburgh
ever since. Edinburgh
To make ends meet, he started painting houses. Yosifu started exploring his new interest in art, at first copying famous paintings. His landlord introduced Yosifu to an art agent, who invited Yosifu to participate in an exhibition featuring oil paintings by 10 emerging artists. Yosifu was the first one to sell a piece on the opening day of the event.
This encouraged Yosifu to devote more time to his art, and he gained the confidence to approach galleries, luxury hotels, and upscale restaurants to promote his work. Their response wasn't positive, so he began to lose hope after many rejections. One day at a local café Yosifu found out that there was an opening to display work for five days. He sold 12 of the 15 works he exhibited there.
To make his work more marketable, Yosifu started experimenting with painting animals, flowers and other popular subjects. In 2008 he started developing his own style by expressing his experiences and feelings through his art. A British friend inspired him to reflect on his own cultural identity as a Taiwanese aboriginal in his artistic ideals.
|Dancers at Aboriginal Fashion Show in Taiwan|
Yosifu returned to
to stay in his hometown and other tribal villages in 2010, to gain a deeper
understanding of indigenous cultures and traditions. The journey reconnected
him with tribal communities and became a source of inspiration for his artistic
creations. He now returns to Taiwan
for three months a year to visit aboriginal villages around the island, teach
children to draw, and exhibit new paintings. His work has been displayed at over
20 exhibitions locally and in the Taiwan UK
and he has been invited to open exhibitions all over Europe and Asia.
Yosifu is proud of his country's culture and is happy to be able to introduce the beauty and dignity of aboriginal cultures to the world, attracting more and more people to discover
indigenous cultures and traditions. Since so many indigenous traditions are
fading away and many young aboriginals are not familiar with their own culture,
Yosifu has taken on the responsibility to record and present the stories and
cultures for aboriginals in Taiwan
through his creativity. Taiwan
His work displays the dignity, spirit and traditions of
’s indigenous tribes and also
addresses serious issues indigenous people face, like the expropriation of
ancestral lands and suppression of aboriginal languages. Yosifu hopes his
creations can show his concerns about Taiwan 's environmental issues such
as deforestation, pollution, urban renewal projects, and nuclear waste disposal
and inspire people to protect the environment and preserve the indigenous
cultures and traditions. Taiwan
He brings his work to life with his use of vivid, warm, rich colors with light and shade which adds dramatic intensity. These elements in his art are evocative of fashion images. Which is why his art has extensive applications in the fashion and creative industries—French cosmetics and beauty company L’Oréal even used his "Driftwood" work as a projected backdrop for a hair and fashion show in Dubai in 2014.
His work is popular in Europe and Asia, and his works have been bought by private collectors from
Scotland, England, Australia,
Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong,
Singapore, Spain, Taiwan,
and . Sweden
To see more photos from the fashion show, check out the Yosifu Fashion Show Facebook album
To see his art in person, go to Yosifu Art:
Address: 7F., No.9, Sec. 1,
Jinshan S. Rd.,
Zhongzheng Dist., . Taipei
Hours: Closed Mondays, open Tuesday to Sunday.