Young Female Founder Defying Stereotypes in Hong Kong Art Community [VIDEO]

September 15, 2011

11:30 am

Alice Zhang used the word “relatable” over and over to describe her gallery’s art, and it’s also one of the best ways to describe her. Wearing a stylish, loose white shirt and tan heels for our interview, she digressed about Beijing and food in Hong Kong. But mostly, she chatted enthusiastically about creating a hip gallery and art website with an international reach in the heart of Hong Kong.

“Many people feel art is beyond them – the Internet and social media will change that though,” says Zhang, who founded Mischmasch. “We highlight artworks that are easily relatable.” In addition to the gallery, Mischmasch has a website that sells pieces for under US$300 from artists in around 60 cities and will soon launch an auction platform.

Mischmasch is focusing on relatable content in an industry with a reputation for its unrelatability. And while many older Chinese artists emphasize political issues inspired by the Cultural Revolution, Zhang is showcasing a younger generation of artists and personal themes like urban life, commercialism, and their psychological effects. (One popular artist, Emily Lau, paints all her human figures in black to symbolize the demise of individuality.)

Zhang is selling works like this not to rich local bankers – as tradition would have it – but to everyday people around the world, who access the art online and blog enthusiastically about their purchases. This includes art fans from countries as far off as Transylvania, Slovenia, and Ecuador.

Zhang is also more tech savvy than many other curators: she does a little programming in addition to her art and graphic design. As “half art geek and half nerd,” she can observe how technology is shaping the art industry. Emily Lau paintings sell well, she thinks, because they look good online – colorful, bright, and relatable – worldwide. Meanwhile, galleries are slapping up websites to stay current but still losing traction as artists connect straight with buyers online.

Born in China, Zhang has lived in New York and London and is enthusiastic about the rise of China’s creative industries as global players – hear why in the video below.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact [email protected]

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