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What to see in town during Seoul Art Week

Sept. 5, 2023 - 18:38 By Park Yuna
An installation view of "Willow Drum Oriole" at Leeum Museum of Art (courtesy of the museum, Studio Suki Seokyeong Kang)

As the second edition of Frieze Seoul is around the corner, the city is full of events and exhibitions led by galleries, auction houses and museums, bringing the attention of the art world to the city.

One can hop around the major art gallery areas in Seoul – Samcheong-dong, Hannam-dong and Cheongdam-dong – to see quality artworks during the week. Frieze Seoul 2023, one of the leading global art fairs, will take place from Wednesday to Saturday at Coex in southern Seoul in collaboration with Kiaf Seoul 2023, the oldest art fair based in Seoul.

Korean experimental art of the 1960s and 1970s is showing at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea in Samcheong-dong, a neighborhood next to Joseon-era palace Gyeongbokgung. The retrospective exhibition titled “Kim Kulim” shows a wide range of works by the 87-year-old artist, who pioneered Korean avant-garde art.

"Everyday English 3-84-54 / 3-84-37" by Sung Neung-kyung (Courtesy of the artist, Gallery Hyundai)

Gallery Hyundai, a leading gallery in Seoul located next to the MMCA, is holding a solo show of Sung Neung-kyung, another leading experimental art figure in the 1960s and 1970s. These avant-garde artists have grabbed global attention with the exhibition, “Only the Young: Experimental Art in Korea, 1960s-1970s,” which is currently running at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

At Kukje Gallery, also in Samcheong-dong, British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor’s works are on display across the gallery’s three buildings. One of the most well-known contemporary artists of large-scale works, his abstract biomorphic sculptures, paintings and drawings are introduced to the public.

If you are a fan of American artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, the special exhibition, “Heads On: Basquiat & Warhol,” organized by global auctioneer Christie’s and Hyundai Card will open for public viewing only on Thursday at STORAGE by Hyundai Card in Hannam-dong, central Seoul.

The Leeum Museum of Art, just a stone's throw away from STORAGE, has opened large-scale exhibitions of Korea’s leading art figures Kang Seo-kyeong and Kim Beom, whose works are being introduced comprehensively.

Near the Leeum Museum of Art is Pace Gallery, which opened a solo exhibition of Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara, who rose to prominence in the late 1990s with his child-like characters. The exhibition marks the artist’s first show in Seoul since 2005 and features his recent ceramic works.

"Carnations 2" by Alex Katz (Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery)

Across the Han River, Cheongdam-dong south of the river is another art mecca in the city. New York-based Gladstone Gallery, which opened a permanent space in Seoul in 2021, kicked off the exhibition, “Alex Katz,” on Tuesday, showcasing the American figurative artist’s iconic flower paintings.

European galleries Perrotin and White Cube, also in the same neighborhood, have launched new shows as well. Perrotin's “Do And Be” runs through Oct. 7, showcasing works by Tavares Strachan that center on the intersections of art, science, technology and methodology. Britain gallery White Cube, which opened a space in Seoul in early September, is showing “The Embodied Spirit.”

An installation view of "Do and Be" at Perrotin Seoul (courtesy of the gallery)

SongEun Art Space is a ten-minute walk from Perrotin and White Cube. Housed in a recently completed building designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, the gallery is showcasing a group of emerging Korean artists in the show “Panorama.”