A good friend and award-winning painter once told me that the art world is no longer motivated by artistic choices. “Collectors don’t buy your work for your work anymore. They buy it for the price.”
His assertion that the monetary value of a painting, and the boasting rights that come with it, is more important to collectors than the artistic impression, is a sentiment that artists around the globe have been battling with for many years.
To be seen as an artist worth investing is the only way that many visual artists can make art a viable career path. But many would prefer to be ‘starving-artists’ than for the true meaning behind their work to be lost to greedy art-collectors.
YunKyung Jeong, an artist featured in Art Central’s Rise group of upcoming artists, almost fell into this trap. She says there is a fine line between a gallery that sells the art and a gallery that sells the price.
“I’ve had one particularly bad experience with a gallery in London. They just wanted people to buy the work to make money. They didn’t celebrate the work itself.”
But for Jeong, she has now embarked on a partnership with Gallery Koo, from her native Korea, that she sees as very different.
“Its always hard for me to explain the motivation behind my work. But Gallery Koo give me time and space to do artist talks, and to really let the audience understand the process and the meaning.”
In fact, Jeong was the only artist present on the first full day of the Rise exhibitions in Hong Kong’s Art Central, showing her commitment to give her audience the time and space they need to consider investing in one of her pieces.
Jeong, who studied fine art at Goldsmiths in London, and is now based there permanently, says her work has become a mix of East and West.
“People see a lot of different influences in my work. I have always loved gothic architecture and when I moved to London, I think the gothic influence became even more evident. There’s a lot of nature in gothic work, and now that is mixed in with my Korean mystic influences.”
Being chosen to join the tightly curated group of Rise artists, presented by eight galleries at this year’s Art Central event in Hong Kong, can have a big impact on an artist’s journey.
“Being asked to show my work here is a big boost for my career. The audience here in Hong Kong is quite different to any I’ve seen in London or in Korea. It’s much more international.”
And with her prominent position at the front of the Rise boutiques, in the 108,000 square-foot art fair on Hong Kong’s glittering waterfront, Jeong’s work proved popular with buyers and artists alike. Her hands-on approach to meeting her collectors has proved a winning formula, with many of her works selling on the first day.
“I love being able to meet many other inspiring artists, and talk with collectors too. Some of my heroes are here.”