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Art Fairs in Korea Introducing Emerging Artists, Young Galleries, and Novice Collectors

Large event halls, works by renowned artists, and mega-galleries typically come to mind when we think of art fairs. But there are also a wide variety of art fairs that introduce newer and lesser-known arts communities being alternatives to these large art fairs.

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Eulji Art Fair 2020. Photo by Goh Jaewook & Goh Jeong-gyoon. © Eulji Art Fair

Some of these fairs are devoted to artists who represent themselves. Some invite young galleries, nonprofit organizations, or curators as opposed to heavyweight galleries. They could focus on particular genres, mediums, or even price ranges and be held in venues such as coffee shops, galleries, and other alternative spaces.

Examples of these art fairs include the curator-driven SPRING/BREAK Art Show; 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora; Art on Paper showcasing contemporary works on paper; The Other Art Fair showcasing emerging and independent artists, as well as many others.

Various types of art fairs are held in Korea as well. These alternative fairs could provide opportunities for young galleries that offer new perspectives and lesser-known artists to enter the art market, as well as provide easier access to the art market for the general public and potential collectors, as many of these fairs target the general public rather than art enthusiasts with programs that cater to a wider range of tastes.

The Preview Hannam with Shinhan Card 2021, Seoul. © Shinhan Card

The Preview with Shinhan Card

In April, The Preview with Shinhan Card, organized by Shinhan Card Art Plus, an in-house company venture, held its second art fair in Seongsu, Seoul. This fair is renowned for attracting young collectors in their twenties and forties.

As the title suggests, the purpose of the fair is to provide collectors with access to the most recent works by emerging artists who have not yet entered the art market. The fair focuses on inviting young galleries that have been working with young and emerging artists. Even though its first fair was held during the pandemic in 2021, it attracted approximately 6,000 people and generated 600 million KRW in sales. 

Union Art Fair 2020, Seoul Art Space Mullae, Seoul. Photo by Lee Heung Su. © Lee Heung Su/ China Focus.

Union Art Fair

The Union Art Fair was founded in 2016 by a group of artists led by the artist and Space XX Director, Dusu Choi. The focus of the fair is on supporting and showcasing underrepresented artists and revitalizing the Korean art scene.

As an artist-led fair, it aims to provide opportunities for lesser-known but full of potential artists of various genres to exhibit their works in the Korean art market. The fair also attempts to be a place where various people, from gallery directors to the general public, can discover different artists. This year’s Union Art Fair was held concurrently with “Black Lot Art Week” at Seoul Auction from April 30 to May 6, 2022.

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Eulji Art Fair 2020. Photo by Goh Jaewook & Goh Jeong-gyoon. © Eulji Art Fair

Eulji Art Fair

First held in 2019, the Eulji Art Fair is organized by Manri Art Makers and hosted by Jung-gu Cultural Foundation. The fair is particularly known for selling the works of young, promising artists for 100,000 KRW.

The purpose of the fair is to provide a foothold for young artists or lesser-known mid-career artists who have yet to enter the art market. The fair has attracted several young collectors, selling out all works in the first and second editions and reaching a 70% sales rate in 2021. Typically, the Eulji Art Fair is held in the autumn.

Grimdosi 2022, Seoul ©Grimdosi

Grimdosi

Grimdosi is an art fair organized by Artgorae Co. (Oaah Agency), a visual art agency based in Seoul, Korea. Since 2016, Grimdosi has held art fairs in various regions in Korea, such as Seoul and Busan, and its final fair will be held in New York in early July. The last Korean fair was held for three days until June 19, 2022.

To make contemporary art more accessible to a wider audience, the fair was planned with the concept of a virtual city where artists live together. Under varying themes every year, the fair introduced not only visual artists but also illustrators, independent publishers, and animation artists. Grimdosi’s New York edition will be held at Subtitled NYC in Brooklyn from July 1 to July 17, 2022.

Yeonhui Art Fair 2022, Musosoklab, Seoul. Photo by Bazaar Magazine.
Yeonhui Art Fair 2022, Musosoklab, Seoul. © Bazaar Magazine.

Yeonhui Art Fair

The Yeonhui Art Fair, which began in 2020, is an innovative art fair that brings together young galleries and art spaces in Yeounhui-dong. Instead of occupying a single location with gallery booths, the participating galleries host the fair in their own exhibition space resembling an art festival or an art week event.

Yeonhui-dong is a neighborhood where a large number of young artists and art spaces have collaborated to introduce innovative and experimental works. The art fair was initiated to facilitate communication between potential collectors and artists, as well as to introduce the artists and galleries’ future activities.

This year’s edition began on May 6, 2022, and lasted for ten days. Place Mak, Musosok Lab, Gallery Mint, Gallery HoHo, Gallery In, and Artertain were among the galleries and art spaces that participated in this year’s edition.

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