The booming Korean art market attracts many international art galleries and art fairs to Seoul. World-renowned galleries, including König Galerie, Thaddeus Ropac, and Gladstone Gallery, have opened a branch in Seoul, and Frieze has partnered with Kiaf SEOUL to hold art fairs in Seoul for five years from this year.
Christie’s, a leading international art auction house, has also decided to enter the Korean art scene. However, it will be through an exhibition rather than an auction. The auction house will host a two-person exhibition, FLESH AND SOUL: BACON/GHENIE, from September 3 to September 5, during the Frieze and Kiaf art fairs, at BOONTHESHOP Cheongdam in Seoul.
The featured artists will be the British Expressionist painter Francis Bacon (1909–1992), known for his raw, unsettling imagery of the human form, and the contemporary Romanian painter Adrian Ghenie (b. 1977) who paints disturbing portrayals of eminent figures.
“South Korea is a highly influential market for Christie’s and the global art scene, and we are very excited to have witnessed the rapid development and vibrancy of the art ecosystem there, as well as the ascendance of its collector community, which has been a key driver of our sales in recent years,” said Francis Belin, President of Christie’s Asia Pacific. Belin also mentioned that “we are delighted to further our relationship with South Korean collectors and art enthusiasts by bringing a pioneering exhibition of masterpieces by two iconic Western artists to Seoul, and we will continue to be a leading and trustworthy steward on their collecting journey.”
The exhibition reflects the auction house’s interest in the South Korean art scene and its efforts to expand its presence in the country. It will also serve as a way for the company to assess the potential of the local art market before investing in the country.
Recently, there has been an influx of the international art world to Singapore, Japan, and especially South Korea in search of the next Asian art market hub.
Hong Kong has long been a hub for Asia’s most significant art deals, but China’s national security law on creativity and expression caused the art world to scale back or leave the city, changing the game in the Asian art market.
The Korean art market shows great potential with the influx of overseas galleries, the Frieze art fair, and the recent announcement of Christie’s Seoul exhibition. Yet it is not only the Korean art market that is attracting the international art world’s attention. Major art fairs will also be held in Tokyo and Singapore next year.
The Art Assembly, which operates multiple art fairs in the Asia-Pacific region, will host Art SG at the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Center in Singapore from January 12 to January 15, 2023. Art SG was initially scheduled to be held in November 2019 but has been repeatedly postponed due to various complications. Now the inaugural Art SG is receiving considerable attention as MCH Group, the parent company of Art Basel, has recently repurchased a 15% stake in Art SG.
The Art Assembly also announced that it will open Tokyo Gentai at the Pacifico Yokohama Convention Center in Japan between July 7 and July 9, 2023. The Art Assembly operates Taipei Dangdai, India Art Fair, Sydney Contemporary, and PHOTOFAIRS Shanghai.
The art industry has shifted to the East, impacting every sector of the art industry. Nevertheless, as a result of the shifting landscape of the Asian art market, the art world is searching for the next Asian art market hub with the potential for long-term growth.