How Red Hong Yi created her GucciGram Tian

The Malaysian artist reveals the creative process behind her version of Gucci's bird-and-flower print

By Andrea Tim | Published: 11 Mar 2016

Red's GucciGram
Photo: redhongyi/Instagram

Gucci recently rolled out its second edition of GucciGram artworks, and Red Hong Yi is already making waves for being the only Malaysian artist to have participated in the project. She, along with other artists from Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan and Korea were selected by creative director Alessandro Michele to reinterpret the house's dreamy print, which features birds and flowers.

Red paints without a paintbrush (although she can), and instead prefers using underrated materials like flowers, food, string, and tea bags. Some of her most iconic work includes a portrait of actor Jackie Chan made of bunched chopsticks and a teh tarik man made of 20,000 teabags. As you might have guessed, her GucciGram Tian did not involve a paintbrush, either.

Red is set for a big year ahead – she is working on commissioned projects and is preparing 30 pieces for her own solo exhibition – and is as excited as you'd expect, having created something unique in collaboration with the Italian fashion house.

How did you come to collaborate with Gucci?
Gucci's Singaporean team contacted me early February to let me know that Gucci's new creative director Alessandro Michele picked a number of Asian artists (including me!) to be a part of this project. I worked with Gucci's Singaporean and Malaysian team on this.

What is your reaction to being the only Malaysian to be involved in the second GucciGram series?
I just found out that I'm the only Malaysian today, when the list of artists and artworks were officially published online. I'm so honoured and incredibly happy to be a part of this.

What was your creative process in creating a reinterpretation of the print?
The birds and the plants caught my attention right away and my immediate idea was to experiment with foliage. I'm a little obsessed with patterns and repetition of materials and wanted to emphasise the beauty of leaves and flower petals by deconstructing and rearranging them. After a few experiments with the arrangement and colour palette, I was happy with the current piece, of a bird looking towards a cloud of flowing leaves and petals.

Artwork: Red Hong Yi

Did you have an alternate idea for your GucciGram Tian?
I usually get pretty conflicted between creating a literal-looking piece or an abstract piece. I thought about creating images of animals with materials, then thought about an entire piece of deconstructed plants, but then thought that a combination of those could be good for this.

What do you think is so significant about Gucci tapping into Asian talent for this project?
There's so much richness, complexity and layers in the Asian culture and there's so much beauty from the Asian perspective that should be shared and celebrated. It's wonderful seeing how the other artists have reinterpreted Gucci's Tian print, and I love finding out more about their work too.

Related: Malaysian artist Red Hong Yi among Asian artists who reinterpreted the Gucci Tian print
Related: Gucci AW16
Related: How I do it: Red Hong Yi


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