Gallery Hyundai has been introducing the works of Korean modern and contemporary artists to the global stage, and it will be taking part in Art Basel in Basel this year for the first time since 2008.
First opened in 1970 at Messe Basel in Switzerland, Art Basel, which now also holds the world’s largest art fairs in Miami, Hong Kong, and Paris, is believed to be the most prestigious art fair for galleries to participate in.
Among the four fairs, Art Basel in Basel has long maintained its reputation and unrivaled position as the world’s best art fair. With the limited number of booths (less than 300) and the fair’s extensive review of gallery applicants to ensure the highest quality artwork, Art Basel is by no means a beginner’s fair.
Since only the top galleries can participate in the fair, it is always easy to determine which Korean art galleries are joining Art Basel in Switzerland. Kukje Gallery is the only Korean gallery that has consistently participated in Art Basel every year, and One & J Gallery has participated three times in 2013, 2015, and 2016.
However, this year, another gallery will be participating in the mega art fair. According to Sangin Cho of the Seoul Economic Daily, Gallery Hyundai will be taking part in the Swiss fair for the first time since 2008.
Gallery Hyundai participated in the Swiss fair ten times from 1996 to 2008, introducing artists representing Korean modern and contemporary art, such as Nam June Paik, Suh Se Ok, Kim Tschang-yeul, Shin Sung Hy, Lee Ufan, Park Seo-Bo, Yun-Hee Toh, and Choe U-Ram.
However, Art Basel did not accept Gallery Hyundai to participate in its fairs after 2008 due to the issue of Gallery Hyundai running an art auction house. In November 2005, Gallery Hyundai joined forces with investors, including Hana Bank, to establish K Auction, which is now one of the two leading auction houses in Korea.
Since this issue was raised, Gallery Hyundai has made many efforts to establish itself back to one of the most prestigious galleries in Korea. The gallery separated from its auction affiliate and has made other efforts by participating in other mega international art fairs such as Frieze London and Frieze Masters, where the gallery introduced and highlighted the works of Korean modern and contemporary artists who have been overlooked in world art history but have played a significant role in the Korean art world.
It was in December 2021, at Art Basel in Miami Beach, that Gallery Hyundai was able to participate in one of Art Basel’s shows. The gallery exhibited the works of eight artists that reflect the various perspectives of Korean contemporary art, including the works of the late artists Quac Insik, Kim Tschang-yeul, and Park Hyunki; Korean masters such as Seung-taek Lee, Lee Kun-Yong, and Lee Kang-So; and younger generation artists such as Minjung Kim and Kang Seung Lee.
In the 2022 edition of Miami’s Art Basel, Gallery Hyundai presented the multilayered aspect of Korean art, from modernism to contemporary works by an LGBTQ artist, along with the works of Quac Insik (1919–1988), Minjung Kim (b. 1962), Kang Seung Lee (b. 1978), Seung-taek Lee (b. 1932), Park Hyunki (1942–2000), Lee Kun-Yong (b. 1942), and Lee Kang-So (b. 1943).
And for its curation, the gallery’s booth was selected as one of “The 10 Best Booths at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2022” by Artsy.
According to Do Hyung-teh, CEO of Gallery Hyundai, it was important for the gallery to use this exhibition as an opportunity to introduce Korean art to a broader audience. The gallery aimed to introduce the unique works of the artists that span avant-garde art, abstract paintings, paintings reinterpreting Korean traditional paper hanji, Minjung Art, and drawings that tell the story of the LGBTQ community.
In the article, Artsy noted that “Gallery Hyundai has mounted a highly curated booth showcasing Korean art history.”
This year’s Art Basel in Basel, which will be held from June 12 to 18 after a two-day preview, will feature a total of 285 galleries from 36 countries. Gallery Hyundai and Kukje Gallery will be the only Korean galleries participating in this year’s Swiss fair.