Co-owner Shivang gives us a behind-the-scenes of the young (soy) art space’s story.
With so many art galleries popping up on the scene in Hong Kong, it can be hard to stand out, but Young Soy Gallery located in Ap Lei Chau is doing just that. We sit down with Shivang Jhunjhnuwala to learn about the vision he and co-owner Alexander Glavatsky-Yeadon had to create an art gallery for the people.
What inspired Young Soy?
My business partner Xander and I were tired of traditional galleries. We also noticed we were not the only people who found attending exhibitions at certain galleries to be a daunting experience for some.
Additionally, because of the high rent prices in Hong Kong, most galleries sell very expensive art that only a select few can afford, and are willing to engage with. This makes it difficult for these galleries to work with emerging artists whose price points are substantially lower than that of established artists.
How did Young Soy come to be?
We entered the art world for two simple reasons: one, we discovered some extraordinary artists that were not getting the exposure they deserved; two, we noticed there was a desire for a gallery like Young Soy to participate.
The gallery was founded last summer and finally came to fruition in October 2020, and since then, we have had five shows, collaborated with over 15 artists, and launched a podcast.
What sets Young Soy apart from other galleries?
Young Soy Gallery exists so that the masses can discover radical artists that stem from diverse influences in an approachable way.
We have a physical space in Ap Lei Chau, but we also believe in a combined approach of digital and physical distribution, and put a lot of time and energy into our online presence. Through selling original works and prints on our website, we are able to work with more artists of different price ranges.
On the other hand, we also run a video production company, whose resources we often use to create compelling video content that allows the artists to communicate with our audience with (literally) their own voices.
What about the “physical distribution” aspect?
We love hosting shows around town. It is important to find a venue that is appropriate for the artwork—if we hosted exhibitions with the same white walls every time, it might not compliment the artwork in the same way that certain locations could.
For instance, we had a street art show in February that we hosted in a Central barbershop with beautiful concrete walls that really brought the artwork to life. In June, we had an exhibition at the artist’s own studio in Wanchai, which gave a lot of depth to the story of his art.
We find that having these shows in different venues not only keeps our audience intrigued, for no two experiences are the same, but it also allows the artwork to be enhanced in a truly special way.
What is your approach when it comes to keeping the audience engaged?
We always make sure to have a bar and a DJ for an environment that is a little more relaxed and casual, so that people do not feel intimidated when attending our exhibitions and can properly engage with the art.
We also encourage viewers to talk to at least one stranger and ask them about their favourite piece from the exhibition as a way of making our shows more interactive and fun.
Where is Young Soy’s place in the art world, would you say?
Ultimately, what it comes down to is that we envision Young Soy to be a gallery that can facilitate the growth of extraordinary, radical artists, while making sure we do it in an amusing way where everybody feels welcome. We are not so concerned about where we fit into the art world, per se; rather, what we give our time and energy to is just making sure we are doing a good job by staying laser focused, and that we are forever evolving with our artists.
We have always been invigorated by the idea set forth by artist Makoto Fujimura: “The arts are not a peripheral luxury for the elite few, but a central necessity, how a civilisation is to be defined, and how our humanity is to be restored.”