“Frieze Storm” rocks the Korean art market – 71Bait

Park Yuna

ANN/KOREA HERALD — Frieze Seoul was a storm. The opening event wasn’t just about the art fair; It brought a new culture to the city and created a platform to talk about art.

Parties and exhibitions at galleries and museums in Seoul’s art districts were packed with people late into the night.

“It’s been a fabulous week. I have attended many parties and events held alongside Frieze Seoul and met many collectors there. It was kind of an exclusive culture to talk about collecting art here, and as far as I know we’ve never had an open space to network with fellow artists,” said David Kim, 29, who has presented Frieze Seoul three days in a row visited the line. Two years ago he started collecting art.

On the final day of Frieze Seoul last Monday, “Frieze Seoul is now closed” blared throughout the Coex venue and people were busy taking art photos until the very last minute. Visitors were delighted and amazed to see artworks by contemporary artists presented by foreign galleries, as well as works by old masters such as Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Wassily Kandinsky, Egon Schiele and Andy Warhol.

“I have collected works by Korean artists and have only been to local art fairs. I’ve recently become interested in artworks by foreign artists, so it was a good time for me to come to Frieze Seoul. I learned a lot about the artists that I didn’t know before,” said Son Woo-kyung, 41, from Seoul, who visited the booth of Sao Paulo-based gallery Mendes Wood DM on Monday.

Visitors view works during the Kiaf Seoul VIP opening September 2 at the Coex in south Seoul. PHOTOS: THE KOREA HERALD
A woman looks at an exhibit from Dr. Jorn Gunther Rare Books in the Frieze Masters section

Frieze Seoul attracted more than 70,000 visitors over four days and, according to Frieze Seoul, saw “rapid sales with galleries reporting widespread collector enthusiasm.” Around 110 galleries took part in the first Frieze Seoul. Thaddaeus Ropac recorded significant sales, including a painting by Georg Baselitz that sold for 1.2 million euros ($1.19 million). Hauser & Wirth was another gallery with big sales, including George Condo’s Red Portrait Composition, which sold to a private museum for $2.8 million. Seoul-based Jason Haam sold Urs Fischer’s Problem Painting to a Seoul-based private collector for $1.2 million.

According to an inside source, artworks worth hundreds of billions of won were sold during the four-day fair, and 80 percent of them were made on the VIP opening day.

“It’s pretty impressive. At the art fairs that we do in Europe or America, the average age is much higher. But here it is, say, between 25 and 30, very young,” said Jorn Gunther, the Basel-based Dr.

Enthusiasm spread at Kiaf Seoul, the 20-year Galleries Association of Korea International Fair, which was held on the first floor of the Coex, while Frieze Seoul was held on the third floor.

The Seoul-based art fair had prepared with a mixture of excitement and apprehension to collaborate with the world’s largest art fair, but the fair proved to be a success in terms of vibrancy and sales, according to several gallery owners.

“We definitely had good energy this year. Those who wanted to see Korean artists seemed to visit our fair after Frieze Seoul. They showed positive reactions because we presented high-quality works by Korean artists,” said the owner of Park Ryu Sook Gallery Park Ryu-sook, which joined Kiaf Seoul and features works by Korea’s contemporary art masters such as Park Seo-bo, Yun Hyong-keun and Kwon presented Dae-sup.

Some foreigners at the joint fair expressed interest in seeing more Korean artworks and learning more about the Korean art scene.

“You see a lot of these things around the world, which is impressive. But at the same time I come here to learn about Korea,” said UK-based art dealer Michael Hue-Williams.

However, at the end of five hectic days, many local galleries had to do some complicated calculations. Galleries that only took part in Kiaf Seoul and those that took part in both fairs differed significantly in their assessment of the first joint art fair. A total of 12 local galleries were selected to participate in Frieze Seoul, including the Frieze Masters galleries, which showcase old masters.

“I think we need to take advantage of Frieze Seoul, throw parties and provide a place to meet collectors and other gallery owners during the joint art fair period. Those local galleries smart enough to make the most of this opportunity will survive,” said director of Gallery Shilla Lee Joon-yub, a 30-year-old gallery based in Daegu and Seoul.

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