I've Got the Blues
If there is someone who still deserves to be called a “Renaissance Man”, it certainly is Yank Wong (Wong Yankwai). The Hong Kong-based artist who, in the 1970s, studied in France, is musician, author, set designer, photographer, painter and activist; but he himself prefers to be called “just painter”.
His abstract paintings are characterized by his masterful use of colour and, maybe even more so, by the free spirit with which they defy tradition as much as they resist the demands of his market-oriented home city. In general, Wong seems to draw thievish pleasure from playing hide-and-seek. His long-term friend, filmmaker Angie Chen, whose questions he is only too happy to sabotage, certainly can tell us a thing or two about it. But she is an equal opponent. More than once during the film shoot, they bicker with one another and, thankfully, Chen has decided to visibly place their quarrels at the very heart of her film.
I’ve Got the Blues is a film about art and the possibility of real artistic liberty, but also about music, wine, friendship and community. By showing such wonderful meeting places like the bohemian “Club 21” - hidden in a back alley - Chen gives us a glimpse into a vibrant artist subculture. Piece by piece, like in a jigsaw, she creates the portrait of a painter who is still waiting to be discovered here.
Asked for his motivation as an artist, Yank Wong responds: “To help people suffer”. And so he does, with an attitude somewhere between humanism and devilment.
Angie Chen (*Shanghai 1949) studied at the University of Iowa, obtaining Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communication. Working in film and television in the U.S. after graduation, she also graduated with a Master’s degree in film from UCLA. After directing the short Der Besuch (1979), which won an award at the Toronto Super 8 Film Festival, she worked on Liu Chiachang’s The Flag (1981). Eager to direct, Chen approached Shaw Brothers executive Mona Fong and was giv-en the opportunities to direct May Be It’s Love (1984) and My Name Ain’t Suzie (1985), the latter winning Best Supporting Actress (for Deanie Ip) at the Hong Kong Film Awards (1986). After finishing Chaos by Design (1988), Chen decided to focus on making commercials, enjoying a successful career in that field. After an absence of 20 years, Chen resumed making feature-length films, directing the documentaries This Darling Life (2008), which was nominated for Best documentary by the Goldne Horse Awards, and One Tree Three Lives (2012), which premiered at the Hong Kong International Film Festival and was later named Recommended Film by the Hong Kong Film Critics Society.