As Hong Kong continues to shake off its negative image as a cultural wasteland, a rising number of galleries have created greater consumer choice for collectibles, and the emerging art scene is also making it easier for artists to gain recognition. 'Hong Kong is an ideal place to exhibit one's art, because it is a bridge to the contemporary art scene taking shape in Shanghai and Beijing,' said Chinese-American artist Larry Yung, whose often confrontational images, which touch on such things as cross-cultural desire and identity, have proven the existence of connoisseurs who look beyond decorating homes. 'It's my hope that people become more discerning,' said Amelia Johnson, owner of Amelia Johnson Contemporary gallery, which recently held an exhibition of Yung's work. 'Before, there was a lot of buying mainly to decorate. Collectors were saying, 'we like it, but it doesn't go with the wallpaper'. We hear that less and less these days.' The development of contemporary art in Beijing and Shanghai has in many ways driven the local scene as galleries tune into the new works on offer from the mainland, and this in turn has nurtured a new generation of art lovers in Hong Kong. 'In Hong Kong, your average art gallery predominantly shows decorative art; generally nothing more demanding than a large abstract painting, a demure [often semi-naked] girl, a beautiful flower or a PRC artist's colourful impression of angst,' said John Batten, founder of Wong Chuk Hang Road's John Batten Gallery. 'My gallery - which would be nothing particularly special in London, Melbourne or Tokyo - has done something different in Hong Kong's art world: exhibiting art that is visually intelligent, art that attempts to engage the viewer, to challenge them to think.' But from the perspective of artists like Mr Yung, it's a scene that's ready to accept unique offerings with compelling things to say, which does more than simply fill wall space. 'I broke into the Hong Kong art scene rather easily,' said Yung. 'As a Chinese-American artist, I brought a unique approach that was embraced by the Hong Kong audience.'