Seoul is becoming a major international attraction for art lovers

If you need another reason to visit Seoul, consider the capital’s booming art scene. By Travel + Leisure

Seoul may be best known as the home of K-pop, but the South Korean capital is increasingly turning into a mecca for artistic creation. The Perrotin and Pace galleries will open new spaces there, confirming the growing attractiveness of the country as a hub of the contemporary art market.

All About Seoul’s Booming Art Scene

Emmanuel Perrotin has always had a taste for risk. Indeed, he was the first Western art dealer to open an outpost in Seoul in 2016. Six years later, he is preparing to open another in the South Korean capital. This new space of more than 250 m2 is located in the very chic district of Gangnam. It will open in September with an exhibition devoted to the Anglo-American artist Emma Webster. This date coincides with the first edition of Frieze Seoul art fair and the last edition of KIAF (the Korea International Art Fair) — two events in which Emmanuel Perrotin’s gallery participates (obviously).

The Parisian art dealer is not the only one to open sites in Seoul to better serve Asian art collectors. The American Pace Gallery will add a new space on the ground floor to the 789 square meter space it previously opened in the South Korean capital in 2017. The three-story gallery is a veritable art complex , as its managing director, Marc Glimcher, explained to The Art Newspaper.

It will soon include a tea room and a bookstore, where art lovers can buy Pace’s books. This is the second time that the powerful American gallery has mobilized to establish its presence in the city. It had already moved from a much smaller location to the space it currently occupies in the central Hannam district.

A booming local market

Western galleries such as Thaddaeus Ropac, König, Peres Projects and Gladstone Gallery have also arrived in Seoul in recent years – or even more recently, as in the case of Lehmann Maupin. This phenomenon highlights the rise of South Korea on the contemporary art market. The 2021 edition of KIAF was a great success, attracting 88,000 visitors, compared to 63,000 five years ago. And that’s not all: sales reached 65 billion won (INR 3, 96, 23, 19,061) during the five days of the show.

This seems to be proof of the South Koreans’ appetite for art. Many K-pop stars, such as Choi Seung-hyun, G-Dragon, and RM, are avid art lovers and collectors. And they are not alone. Kyu-jin Hwang, associate director for Asia at Thaddaeus Ropac in Seoul, says many young people buy art as a hobby. “For the MZ [a Korean term encompassing “Millennials” and “Generation Z”]collecting art is a form of self-expression, and everyone openly shares their experiences online,” she told Le Quotidien de l’Art in December.

Add to that a vibrant art scene, major museums, biennials, and renowned foreign galleries and fairs, and it all makes South Korea a country that is becoming a premier art destination. However, South Korea is still far from equaling its neighbor China, which alone accounts for 20% of the global art market according to the latest Art Market report from Art Basel and UBS. Nevertheless, the country of Yoon Seok-youl intends to catch up thanks to the attractiveness of its capital.

Main and feature image credit: Zequn Gui/Unsplash

This article was published via AFP Relaxnews

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Keith P. Plain