K-ARTNOW

Inside South Korea's Art Scene: Five Young Contemporary Art Galleries

The number of art galleries in Korea has reached 503 as of 2020, according to the Korea Arts Management Service (KAMS). Among them, young galleries that have been established after the 2000s are expanding the boundaries of the Korean contemporary art world with living artists.

Here are the five galleries that put the spotlight on young or underappreciated artists, helping many artists to continue their work and progress through their various programs.

P21
Exhibition view of "Eunsil Lee: UNSTABLE DIMENSION." P21, Seoul. August 26, 2021 – September 25, 2021. © P21

P21

Established in 2017, P21 is a gallery located in Itaewon, Seoul. The gallery aims to promote living contemporary artists working in diverse media at all levels. P21’s two venues, P1 and P2, allow the public to access contemporary art any time through the window gallery, and  encourage artists to come up with new ideas and create works that are interrelated to the location.

P21 has attracted a lot of interest by hosting a solo exhibition by Choi Jeong Hwa (b. 1961), one of the most well-known Korean contemporary artists. At international art fairs like Art Basel Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi Art, and West Bund Art & Design, P21 has been introducing emerging Korean artists such as Heemin Chung (b. 1987) and Haneyl Choi (b. 1991), as well as more established artists such as Shin Meekyoung (b. 1967). Choi Jeong Hwa’s large-scale artworks have been installed at several institutions in France, including Annecy and Reims, as well as the United Arab Emirates and Seoul.

P21 represents Choi Jeong Hwa, Haneyl Choi, and Hyungkoo Lee and has done collaborative projects with a number of Korean artists, including Meekyoung Shin, Eunsil Lee, Yoo Seungho, Jong Oh, Sun Choi, and international artists Fahrettin ORENLI and Jorinde Voigt.

Pibi Gallery
Exhibition view of "LEE DONGI : 2015 ~ 2018." PIBI Gallery. Seoul. Nov 08, 2018 - Jan 19, 2019. © PIBI Gallery

PIBI Gallery

Founded in 2016, PIBI Gallery aims to contribute to the development of the Korean contemporary art scene by presenting contemporary artworks of all genres and introduce Korean contemporary art on the international stage.

The gallery aspires to be a place that sheds light on Korean artists who have built a solid artistic foundation, as well as a place where contemporary art and the public can communicate through various channels.

PIBI Gallery took part in introducing world-renowned international artists to the Korean public by organizing exhibitions at public art museums such as the Alex Katz exhibition at Daegu Art Museum in 2020 and JULIAN OPIE at Suwon IPARK Museum of Art in 2017. KIAF, Art Busan, The Preview with Shinhan Card, and Abu Dhabi Art are just a few of the art fairs where the gallery has been showcasing Korean artists.

PIBI Gallery represents twelve artists, including Dongi Lee, Nakhee Sung, Yangah Ham, Kyojun Lee, Seunghye Jung, and others. 

Space WD
Exhibition view of "To the Moon." Space Willing & Dealing, Seoul. September 24, 2021 - October 14, 2021. © Space Willing & Dealing

Space Willing & Dealing

Space Willing & Dealing was founded in 2012 to promote Korean contemporary artists by creating diverse content within a more flexible system. Furthermore, the gallery aims to provide diversity to the Korean contemporary art world by forming a network through its programs.

To achieve its goals, the gallery has hosted solo and group exhibitions for both emerging and mid-level artists, held art critic programs for young artists, and conducted research programs to broaden the concept of the art market. 

Space Willing & Dealing has taken part in several art fairs, including the Solo Show in Seoul, Art Busan in Busan, and Abu Dhabi Art. To promote Korean contemporary artists to a wider audience, it also has curated exhibitions in collaboration with international art institutions in China, Denmark, Japan, and other countries. The gallery also offers various educational programs to help people better comprehend contemporary art.

Jinu Nam, Kyungho Baek, Sejun Lee, Kalim Yoon, and Chang Sung Eung are represented by Space Willing & Dealing.

gallery Baton
Exhibition view of "THE SECRET LIFE." Gallery Baton, Seoul. MARCH 9, 2021 - APRIL 9, 2021. © Gallery Baton.

Gallery Baton

Founded in 2011, Gallery Baton is a gallery that aims to promote acclaimed Korean and international contemporary artists through its curatorial practice that reflects the current international art trends.

To promote its artists, Gallery Baton has been participating in world-renowned art fairs, such as Art Basel and Frieze. It also intends to create a more sustainable art ecosystem by recognizing young artists with potential through its nonprofit spaces; Chapter II and Chapter II Yard are two not-for-profit programs that provide studio spaces, curatorial support, and exhibition opportunities.

Gallery Baton represents Korean artists, such as Heeseung Chung, Kim Bohie, Bae Yoon Hwan, and many other artists from different countries. 

Gallery2
Exhibition view of "Donghyun Son Ink on Paper Ⅲ." Gallery2, Seoul. Mar 3, 2022 — Apr 2, 2022. © Gallery2

Gallery2

Opened in 2007, Gallery2 in Pyeongchang-dong focuses on introducing Korean contemporary artists of many genres.

By building a strong partnership with the artists, the gallery aims to encourage artists to continue their creative activities, enhance the diversity in the Korean art world, and assist artists in establishing a stable position in the art market. Gallery2 focuses on holding exhibitions that show the current direction of the artist’s creative activity to aid in the comprehension of the artist’s works and promote contemporary art to the general audience.

Gallery2 represents Korean contemporary artists of various genres, including Donghyun Son, Dongi Lee, Hyunsun Jeon, Sojung Lee, and Taeyeon Kim. 

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