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Art Busan to feature exhibitions, conversations with art professionals

Major art fair will run from Thursday to Sunday; organizer terminates contract with Art Busan CEO

May 9, 2022 - 09:22 By Park Yuna
“Infinite” by Kang Yi-yun (Courtesy of the artist)

Art Busan, one of South Korea’s major art fairs, will kick off on Thursday with its VVIP opening featuring conversations with leading art professionals and exhibitions of works from world-renowned artists.

The art fair will run through Sunday at the Bexco Exhibition Center in Busan. The four-day event will include works of 133 galleries in 21 countries including Gray -- a gallery based in Chicago and New York that represents David Hockney, Alex Katz and Jaume Plensa -- and is among the first timers at the major event.

The four-day affair will hold lectures by professionals and artists called “Conversations,” offering participants a chance to catch up with the trends in the global art market. The program consists of two sessions, “Reframing the Boundaries: NFT Art” and “Meet The Artists,” each offering six lectures that take place at the exhibition venue or online.

British sculptor Antony Gormley will meet audiences online during a presentation titled “Towards a Sustainable Future for the Arts: Carbon Footprint” at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Emerging artists Zhao Zhao and Etsu Egami will hold a talk titled “Focus in Asia” at 3 p.m. on Saturday. While Egami will be at the fair in person, Zhao Zhao will join the talk virtually. 

Antony Gormley (Art Busan)

The session “Reframing the Boundaries: NFT Art” will feature a lecture titled “The Advent of NFT Art and Related Issues,” by Joo Henna, a professor at Hongik University, and several other online talks, including “Belvedere Museum and NFT: Gustav Klimt” by Wolfgang Bergmann, CFO at Belvedere Museum, and “Gallery and NFT: The Case of Koenig Gallery” by Johann Koenig, the gallery’s owner.

Online reservation for the talks is required through Art Busan’s official website and is limited to 40 people.

An Art Busan special program, “Experiment,” is made up of 14 artists’ exhibitions, including New York City-based artist Austin Lee, who combines airbrush paintings and digital technologies, media artist Kang Yi-yun, who showcased the work “Beyond the Scene” at BTS’ global public art project “CONNECT BTS” and David Hockney’s 8.7-meter-long photographic drawing at Gray’s booth.

American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein’s painting “Purple Range” will be the most expensive artwork at the fair, with a price tag of $5.7 million, according to Art Busan.

Last year, the fair had some 800,000 visitors -- including 15,000 during a preview for art collectors -- and its sales hit a record high of 35 billion won ($27.5 million). At least 15 galleries were known to have each garnered more than 1 billion won in sales, according to the organizer.

Meanwhile, the organizing committee announced Saturday that it has terminated its contract with Byun Won-kyung, who has led the art fair since 2020 as CEO of Art Busan.

It did not provide any details other than that “the organizing committee reached a conclusion that Art Busan could not maintain the relationship with Byun,” it said in a statement.

“We need to internally discuss how to deliver the matter to the press more concretely,“ an Art Busan official told The Korea Herald.

By Park Yuna (