Is Seoul the new art city to watch?

When asking collectors and gallery owners about the best art cities in the world, you would surely expect them to mention some classics like Paris, New York or Tokyo. However, there is one surprisingly beloved city that art lovers can’t stop talking about: Seoul, South Korea. The capital has long been known for its bustling districts, award-winning restaurants and thriving music scene, but it will now also host the first Frieze fair in Asia from September 2-5, 2022.

Each year, Frieze hosts five renowned art meetups that bring together artists and collectors from around the world to view the latest works from both icons and newcomers making waves on the contemporary art scene. To outsiders, the Frieze Seoul announcement may have come as a surprise as these art fairs were previously only held in London, New York, and Los Angeles. However, Patrick Lee, the director of seoul friezenotes that Seoul’s emergence as a leader in contemporary art has been a long time coming.

frieze seoul director patrick lee

Before taking on the role of director, Patrick Lee ran a Seoul-based gallery called ONE AND J.

beautiful sea

“The contemporary art scene in Seoul really grew in the 1980s, and collecting became a popular activity that grew rapidly in the last 30 years,” says Lee. “Seoul is a dynamic place with a sophisticated and inquisitive collector base and a global art infrastructure. The country is home to incredibly talented artists, world-class museums, corporate collections, non-profit organizations, biennials and galleries.”

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Lee further details that Korean art lovers have always been open to learning and educating themselves about the newest galleries, but they also love to share their own information and thoughts on certain works. With the help of social media, news of these new artists and exhibitions has been able to spread quickly, attracting a younger audience that is constantly eager to talk about contemporary art. Coupled with South Korea’s rich traditions in folk art and ceramics, Frieze saw fit to officially name Seoul his new art center.

“Frieze looks for cities where there is a great appreciation of culture,” explains Lee. “Korean culture has already gained recognition on a global scale, and this is fueling interest in visiting the country and paying attention to everything coming out of Korea, all of which makes it a great venue for a fair.”

a still from tao hui's being wild,

A still from Tao Hui’s Be Wildwhich will be part of the “Focus Asia” exhibition.

Image courtesy the artist and Kiang Malingue/Frieze Seoul

The new COEX center fair will feature more than 110 galleries mostly hailing from Asian countries, along with many well-recognized international names. Frieze Seoul will also feature a new section called “Frieze Masters” that illustrates thousands of years of art history through a contemporary lens. Another highlight includes the “Focus Asia” exhibition, curated by Christopher Y. Lew and Hyejung Jang, which features 10 individual artist submissions from young galleries based in Asia, including some of the most promising Korean galleries.

Beyond showcasing some of the world’s best contemporary artists, Lee sees Frieze Seoul as a platform to introduce international art fans to the myriad museums, nonprofits, and galleries that are pushing Korean art to the forefront of minds. everybody.

“I can’t wait for our opening day, to bring everyone together under one roof in Seoul. I also can’t wait for the reaction of visitors to the city itself, and I’m happy that this provides an opportunity for the city to shine.” “. ”

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