27 March, 2014
What's On HK

Art Insider: Sarah Kohler, founder of Twentybliss

27 March, 2014

Hong Kong’s art scene is flourishing, and with the Affordable Art Fair, Art Basel and other big exhibitions coming our way (such as Antony Gormley at the White Cube!), it’s important to keep in the know! We’ll be chatting with local curators, artists and creatives to give you an insider’s look into the HK’s art world… get up to speed, culture vultures!

Here at Sassy we’re all about supporting and celebrating Hong Kong girls with initiative and drive – that’s why we decided to catch up with the founder of amazing art platform Twentybliss, Sarah Kohler! After studying photography in the US, Sarah returned to Hong Kong and kick started this growing creative community that reaches out particularly to emerging artists. She’s organised exhibitions around HK and is now going global and curating Twentybliss’ first show in Los Angeles. Find out more about Twentybliss and Sarah’s thoughts and tips on art in Hong Kong…

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Why did you start Twentybliss?
I kept seeing lists and lists of excuses and reasons coming up on my newsfeed about ‘being in your twenties’. Sure, it’s all relatable and fun, but I also wanted to hear stories from individuals that were honest and real. I originally started TwentyBliss as a blog to collect all these stories, and at the same time I wanted to curate a group with some friends where I could show some of my photography. I got turned down by gallery after gallery, and it just didn’t work out, so I thought about it from the gallery’s perspective. They want to support young artists, but they’re also investing in the artists they choose. I used Twentybliss as a creative platform of artists that galleries could invest in, and somehow it all fell into place! TwentyBliss became a community where everybody is relevant. It’s all about connecting people at the end of the day. It fit with what I was trying to do at the time and it has been growing ever since!
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What are your plans for Twentybliss in the future?
I’m hoping to explore online media and the YouTube side of things. People are still talking about how YouTube is the future of entertainment when it’s happening right before our eyes. I feel like Hong Kong needs a YouTube culture, I just know it could be incredible. I’m hoping to create a curated channel where there will be visual diaries, interviews or anything visually creative. Something that’s engaging and encourages more participatory projects that makes art even more accessible. We have a documentary that’s currently being shot in LA asking people in their twenties what they think of our generation, and what they’re aspiring towards in this decade, which will be on there too.

In terms of TwentyBliss as a whole and five years down the line, I hope to be a brand of exhibitions that are independently curated globally. We’re doing a show in LA that opened 21 March. It will be our first international show, so we’ll see what happens!
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What inspires you and what is your most inspirational place in Hong Kong?
I am completely dependant on the internet. Since the inception of TwentyBliss, I spend even more time on the internet, but I am absolutely fine with that! There is so much talent on Tumblr – it’s insane. I spend hours scrolling through my dashboard and every 3rd or 4th post will be an incredible piece of artwork, a piece of writing, a short film or a song someone wrote! The TwentyBliss following itself is a community of such talented people, I am constantly being inspired by them!

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Hong Kong can get a little suffocating at times. I don’t explore this place as much as I should, but lately I’ve been wandering around Kau U Fong, Tai Ping Shan Road and everything around Bonham Road. There are some incredible things happening around there (and great eats too, Teakha is a favourite)!

Which is your most loved artist/which artist most excites you?
Oh my gosh, I am absolutely obsessed with Marna Hattingh right now! She illustrates these characters that are so filled with life dancing across patterned backgrounds. There is so much detail and complexity in each piece, I could stare at them for hours! Another one would be Aya Takano. I didn’t care for her at all at the beginning, but over time, my perception changed when I was interning at a gallery. She was still relatively new in the art scene at the time and it was my first experience stepping into this world… I think I’ll always have a soft spot for her earlier works.

Now, not to be biased, but the next one would have to be Claire Raymond. She is a very dear friend of mine and was in the first TwentyBliss show. There is something so dark and honest about the characters she creates in her work, it’s difficult not to be captivated. Her work continues to grow across all mediums and knows no bounds! She recently created a sculpture with pig intestines… I know! It sounds crazy and you absolutely have to see it! Check out her funny, frank and inspiring blog here.

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What’s your favourite Hong Kong gallery?
Ahh, there are so many. I’d have to say Cat Street Gallery, AP contemporary, Boom and Identity are pretty high up on my list! They are incredible people that are actually encouraging and supporting young artists.

sarah cat streety gallery

What’s your favourite art work in your most recent exhibition?
Ooh, this is kind of like choosing your favourite child. I don’t necessarily have a favourite. I make sure that each show is a good balance of different styles and medium so that they compliment each other. If I picked them to be in the show, they’ve pretty much already made it onto my favourites list!

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What advice would you give to aspiring artists in Hong Kong?
I’m probably not in any position to be giving advice seeing as I’m still a young aspiring artist and curator myself, but I’m figuring it out with you guys! It’s so easy to be discouraged and feel like you’ve been forgotten in the blur of the cityscape. However, I can promise this; if you keep working and putting yourself out there, you are going to find the right person. It only takes one person in the right moment to create something and it will grow from there. It took me two years to curate and put up my first show. I had to change/tweak the idea a little to get there with the first exhibition, but it’s still what I believe in and it makes me happy.

Be open-minded even at the most frustrating times – you can’t and will never please everybody, so don’t attempt it because you don’t have to. Figure out who your target audience is and if you make them happy, the like-minded will all come together. You’ll be happier too.


Find out more about Twentybliss and keep up to date with all their creative events around town here!


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