Korean artwork: world wide art galleries are flocking to Seoul

Foundry Seoul, a gallery owned by a Korean pipe producing company, opened in June 2021…

Foundry Seoul, a gallery owned by a Korean pipe producing company, opened in June 2021 beneath the new Gucci flagship retail store in the affluent neighbourhood of Hannam-dong. It’s just one more addition to the district’s previously thriving nearby art scene, which has a lot more than a dozen galleries within just a 5km radius, producing it a crucial section of the broader Korean art boom. 

Next to the Han River, Hannam-dong is significantly preferred amongst international galleries opening their to start with Seoul outposts, or expanding their current footprints in the metropolis. 

Pace Gallery recently relocated to a place 4 times greater than its previous Seoul site – subsequent to the Leeum Museum owned by Samsung – and Thaddaeus Ropac will be opening its initial Asian outpost in Hannam-dong in October 2021, which will feature interiors built by Seoul-dependent designer Teo Yang. Yang was also responsible for Kukje Gallery’s K1 multi-use arts complex, which won Best Cultural Draw in the Wallpaper* Design and style Awards 2021. 

Exterior look at of Thaddaeus Ropac in Hannam-dong, Seoul, which will open in October 2021, marking the gallery’s first Asian outpost

Neighborhood galleries these kinds of as BHAK, Gallery Joeun and Gallery Baton have all settled in Hannam-dong, and Gana Art Middle has two exhibition spaces there. 

The increase of Hannam-dong as a sweet location for galleries catering to wealthy nearby collectors coincides with Seoul’s ascent as an art and culture hub in Asia. Berlin-primarily based gallery König relocated its Asian outpost from Tokyo to Seoul in April 2021, settling in the MCM setting up in the upscale style district of Cheongdam-dong. Frieze artwork honest will be keeping its very first Asia reasonable in the money in September 2022.

Why has Seoul grow to be a magnet for international galleries and art fairs? 

Exterior check out of König gallery, Seoul. Courtesy of the artist and KÖNIG GALERIE, Berlin, London, Seoul. Photography: Cheonho Ahn

‘It’s a artistic, awesome, fascinating [city],’ says Victoria Siddall, board director of Frieze. ‘Korea has unbelievable music, meals and architecture and just a ton of motives for men and women to want to take a look at.’ What Frieze is on the lookout for is a city ‘that has a excellent foundational artwork local community, but also goes past the arts’, she claims. 

‘London, New York and Los Angeles are all cultural centres that have remarkable communities of artists, galleries, museums, fantastic artwork universities and subtle amassing scenes,’ she proceeds. ‘That’s been the method we’ve taken to fairs, and Seoul was the great addition.’ 

Frieze will launch its to start with Asia good in Seoul in September 2022

Seoul’s burgeoning area art scene

‘It feels like Seoul and Korea have speedily risen to be a important city and country in the world art entire world,’ suggests Kyu Jin Hwang, Asia director at Thaddaeus Ropac. 

The Korean artwork scene has grown swiftly in the earlier 5 or six yrs, commencing with the Dansaekhwa growth, she says, which brought global consideration to Korean artwork. ‘Big names these kinds of as Lee Ufan, Park Seo-Bo, Yun Hyong-keun, Chung Sang-hwa and Ha Chong-hyun were steadily promoted by nearby galleries these types of as Kukje and Hyundai, and as these artists began to garner global awareness, obviously the current market grew,’ says Hwang.

Prime: Chung Chang-Sup, Kukje Gallery K1 Chung Chang-Sup solo exhibition installation look at. Above: Park Search engine optimisation-Bo. Kukje Gallery K2 The Art of Dansaekhwa set up see. Photography: Sang Tae Kim. Images furnished by Kukje Gallery

‘I’ve lived in Europe for 15 years. Ten a long time in the past, when we explained Asia, individuals thought of China, Hong Kong or Japan. Now the modern Korean art marketplace has set up a solid foothold and I’m happy to be shelling out my profession in the artwork market as a Korean.’

‘All the proper ingredients’

In spite of the pandemic, the artwork environment in Seoul hasn’t struggled. In actuality, it’s in fact faring greater since of it, gallerists say. ‘Because people stayed at residence, they expended what they would shell out on journey on inside decoration and purchasing artwork. On the net fairs have also develop into an helpful way for men and women to consume art,’ claims Hwang. 

Soo Choi, handling director at König Seoul, also states the pandemic has assisted provide artwork nearer to persons. ‘Since there are social limits to what men and women can culturally get pleasure from, I think they have newly discovered how substantially they can expertise in galleries. They’ve also started off accumulating artwork within just their finances,’ claims Choi. 

Courtesy of the artist and KÖNIG GALERIE, Berlin, London, Seoul. Photography: Cheonho Ahn

The decreased barrier to entry has permitted galleries to be visited by a more youthful audience – yet another contributing component to the burgeoning art scene. ‘I’ve been a gallerist for 15 yrs and I certainly notice that the audience is more youthful these times. Galleries weren’t quick places to check out but now the notion has improved, it is somewhere they can visit freely,’ Choi proceeds. ‘People’s tastes have elevated as nicely.’

The inflow of the more youthful audience simply cannot be defined devoid of social media, which played a pivotal purpose in producing the art increase in Korea, claims Youngjoo Lee, senior director at Rate gallery, which inagurated its new Seoul outpost with a solo show by American artist Sam Gilliam. ‘When it arrives to modern artwork and understanding it, Koreans’ speed of speaking and sharing on social media is fastest, particularly amongst youthful folks,’ says Lee. ‘I think the greatest adjust in the industry is that Korea is major the pattern in terms of introducing artwork [to the public].’

Major: Exterior perspective of Pace Seoul. Images: Sangtae Kim. Installation see of Sam Gilliam at Rate Seoul. Images: courtesy of Pace Gallery

Could Seoul turn into Asia’s new artwork funds?

Socio-political factors are not to be dismissed in Seoul’s rise, on the other hand, as galleries are exiting Hong Kong to uncover a new Asian hub. Seoul is the most favourable option for lots of simply because it provides similar tax gains to Hong Kong, as very well as a developing cultural scene. 

‘I really don’t believe we have totally taken gain of Korea’s tax-free of charge added benefits until now. If Korea makes use of that to its gain, not only will the Korean artwork industry increase, Seoul can turn into a trading hub,’ suggests Choi of König.  

‘Tax exemption for trading artwork has certainly played to our gain,’ adds Lee of Speed. ‘The potent modern art scene, tax exemption, and acceptance of Korean culture have produced Seoul an interesting place.’ 

As Siddall continues: ‘I think it [Seoul] has probable to be the art sector funds in Asia just mainly because it has all the ideal components.’ §