Money and the Monster: the Problem with Art Galleries



By: George Hang Sui


If you threw a stone down Hollywood Road, chances are that you'd hit a bad painting before you hit a bad person. (And that's saying something, LKF is like, Banker Wanker Heaven.) Casual interest in art has fuelled an explosion of commercially viable but creatively bankrupt pieces. Rumor is that some of the galleries on Hollywood Rd. were just created as money laundering sites. (But those are just rumors...) We in Hong Kong can tell what's good art just by looking at it, can't we? 



Now some will say that art is totally subjective, that there's no right or wrong, much less good or bad... But I personally, cannot stand what has happened to the art scene in Hong Kong recently... Let me explain to you why it sucks to be a painter in HK. There used to be a few thriving art galleries in Hong Kong that supported local painters. Now, there's simply the commercial galleries. Sure, there's Fotanian in the spring but let me ask you? When was the last time you casually travelled to Fotan to buy a painting? When was the last time you travelled to Chai Wan to buy a sculpture? Who has space for a sculpture in their home? 


Good artwork has to be developed over a long period of time, which helps show passion and commitment to exploring the idea. Bad art is a cheap imitation. Something created for the thrill of purchasing- just like a rip off handbag in the ladies market. Of course, the definition of good and bad is often subjective... This is what makes art interesting to look at.


Finally, good art is often popular and even sellable at galleries, art fairs, and auctions. Art Basel is root of all evil for local artists. It's pretention, money and greed in its highest form. Of course not all popular art is good, and not all good art is popular. This is why great painters like Van Gogh died starving. 


So, for those of you who freeze up in the headlights of "good" and "bad", stand tall. Bring along your handy checklist the next time you go hunting for art - it should help a bit when you’re aiming those stones. The most important thing when buying a painting is that you should love it. It doesn't matter what kind of investment it is. It's not a stock portfolio; it's a piece of art. Treat it like one. And for God's sake if you're looking for a piece of art... AVOID Hollywood Rd. and its galleries like the plague.



This piece was submitted by a reader for publication. If you have something to say about Hong Kong's art scene, send it to us at Pieces are edited for clarity. 

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