As a young artist, Iris Tsang See-wan knows how hard it is to show her work in Hong Kong. Despite a booming visual arts scene, with big international galleries setting up shop in the city, Tsang thinks the local scene has become too commercialised, the pressure to make a profit leaving little space for young experimental artists to develop the necessary skills to succeed.
"Being an artist is a whole package; making the artwork is just one part of it. How do you get the skills an artist needs if you don't get the chance to learn?"
To open up the playing field, the Art Experience Gallery in Tsuen Wan invited young artists to apply for its "First Smash" Art Project Group Show, which runs until August 31.
The gallery asked graduates to apply online for a chance to be exhibited. Six artists were chosen from 30 candidates.
"Our selection was based on the artist's concept, and how they elaborated on it," says gallery director Jacky Yeung Ka-fai.
Since it opened in 2010, the gallery has focused on promoting artists from the region. But only local artists have the chance to display their work for the latest project. There is "an obvious imbalance between the number of galleries and art-related institutions and the number of young artists graduating every year", Yeung says.
The "First Smash" show was inspired by Andrzej Sobiepan,
a Polish art student who caught widespread attention when he secretly hung one of his paintings in the National Museum in the city of Wroclaw.
Sobiepan's actions sparked a sense of responsibility in Yeung.
"As a gallery, we have a responsibility to do as much as possible to develop the art industry in Hong Kong. Part of that process is to promote more young artists."
Tsang, a 23-year-old fine arts graduate from Chinese University, says she chose art as a medium "to tell people a story".
Hong Kong Art School graduate Dan Ann Hin-ka made a traditional Chinese suit out of measuring tape in an attempt to illustrate the distance between people, and grasp the nature of relationships.
The 32-year-old artist says "First Smash" changed her negative view of galleries in Hong Kong, and hopes there will be more events like it. "This gallery is passionate about helping the Hong Kong arts community understand developments in [contemporary art]," Ann says. "This exhibition gives the artist some respect."