Amid a sea of big-name art institutions in Hong Kong, one small, grassroots gallery is punching above its weight and doing things differently. Since late 2020, Young Soy Gallery, whose name loosely translates from Cantonese as “Ugly Gallery”, has disrupted the local scene with its inclusive exhibition formats and unpretentious founding principles. In its founders’ minds, art should be accessible to everybody, regardless of their social standing.
After noticing talented artists weren’t getting the exposure that he felt they deserved, founder Shivang Jhunjhnuwala, 27, teamed up with business partner Alexander Glavatsky-Yeadon, 26, to promote underrepresented local talent to the public, especially those who might feel alienated by traditional galleries due to a lack of exposure to the art world.
The pair grew up down the street from each other in Pok Fu Lam, yet only met through mutual friends in California in 2017 while Jhnujhnuwala was studying at the University of Southern California and Glavatsky-Yeadon, a freestyle skier, was training for the following year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea, where he competed for Great Britain.
They clicked instantly over their shared interest in art, music and culture, and a desire to shake things up. “Our frustration [with the industry] does not stem from what already exists in the art world, but rather what is missing in it. Our intention is to fill that void,” Jhunjhnuwala says.
“Our mission is simple: we want to cultivate and celebrate a range of cultural influences. We envision Young Soy to be a gallery that can facilitate the growth of radical artists, while making sure we do it in an amusing way where everyone feels welcome.”