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Frieze Seoul: Spotlight on South Korean Galleries and Artists

Six highlights from the second edition of the prestigious fair

Installation view of Frieze Seoul 2023 (Booth B19) at COEX, Korea. Image courtesy of Tina Kim Gallery. Photo: Hyunjung Rhee

More than 70,000 visitors, drawn from 36 countries, passed through the halls of this year’s inspiring second edition of Frieze Seoul. Hosted inside of the COEX mega-complex, a few floors above the Galleries Association of Korea’s Kiaf SEOUL art fair, Frieze paired leading South Korean institutions with a diverse range of exhibitors from international art markets. From this immense cultural confluence came an engaging discourse on art—with a spotlight on Seoul’s artistic communities. The following seven highlights, drawn from South Korean galleries and artists, merely scratch the surface of what Frieze Seoul had to offer this year.

White Noise showing Rondi Park at Frieze Seoul 2023. Photo by David Graver

Rondi Park at White Noise

In the Focus Asia section of the fair, Seoul-based gallery White Noise dedicated their entire installation to the charming maximalist creations of artist Rondi Park. Park’s works ranged from large-scale painted pieces to textiles, sculptural ceramics and even performance. Whimsy and wonder, however, were used to address worry, integrity and other moving concepts. Her entire installation was a bright spot in the fair.

Jinju Lee at Arario Gallery

Passersby were stopped in their tracks by Korean artist Jinju Lee‘s photorealistic depictions inside of Seoul-based Arario Gallery‘s booth. “Gaze” (2023) and “Perception” (2023) were both meticulously crafted from handmade (and proprietary) Leejeongbae black powdered pigment, animal skin glue and water on unbleached cotton. A close inspection of the painting reveals Lee’s impeccable attention to detail and her unique ability to convey the essence of humanity.

Koh San Keum at Gallery Baton

In contrast to the majority of white installation walls, Seoul’s Gallery Baton dressed their booth in vibrant blue—and only displayed pieces that featured hues. Among the works, Seoul-based conceptual artist Koh San Keum‘s three-part “Curtain (Dame Agatha Christie)” (2023) was composed of 4mm artificial pearl beads set onto fabric and wood panel. Each pearl and its distinct placement acts as a representation of a word in the source material, penned by the famed novelist acknowledged in the title.

Kyungmi Shin at Various Small Fires

LA-based visual artist Kyungmi Shin displayed “all about love” (2023) with Various Small Fires, a contemporary art gallery founded by Esther Kim Varet with outposts in Seoul, Dallas and Los Angeles. Shin’s piece layers a photo transfer and arcylic paint onto a cradled wood panel. The beautiful, dreamlike result reveals further detail as it asks viewers to stay longer and look closer.

Installation view of Frieze Seoul 2023 (Booth B19) at COEX, Korea. Image courtesy of Tina Kim Gallery. Photo: Hyunjung Rhee

Suki Seokyeong Kang at Tina Kim Gallery

The winner of Frieze Seoul’s prestigious Stand Prize (which honors the entire presentation within an installation), NYC-based Tina Kim Gallery curated thought-provoking works from an impressive roster of international artists. Among them all, Korean visual artist Suki Seokyeong Kang‘s “GRANDMOTHER TOWER #23-02” (2022-23), composed of painted steel, thread, silk, fabric and wheels, stands out for its captivating textural layers.

Seung Yul Oh at One and J. Gallery

Korean born, Auckland-based Seung Yul Oh presented the striking, geometric artwork “Fortuitous Sonority” (2023) with Seoul’s One and J. Gallery. Composed of acrylic on canvas, the colorful painting succeeds in not only sustaining a viewer’s gaze but in asking that individual to question the dimensions before their eyes.

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