Together, the inaugural edition of Frieze Seoul and Korea’s largest local art fair, Kiaf SEOUL, has brought many international galleries to Seoul, making it one of the largest events of its kind in the country’s history. Taking this as an opportunity to enter a new art market, several more international galleries have opened new branches in Seoul, while those already present in the city have expanded their spaces.
On September 1, a day before Frieze Seoul’s opening, the Berlin-based contemporary art gallery Esther Schipper opened its first location in Asia in the Geyonglidan-street area of Itaewon, Seoul. The Seoul branch will be headed by CEO Sunil Kim and will have two showrooms, two offices, and a rooftop deck.
In 1989, Esther Schipper opened its doors for the first time in Cologne, Germany, before relocating to Berlin in 1995 and settling on Potsdamer Strasse in 2017, becoming one of Germany’s leading contemporary art galleries.
Over the past three decades, the gallery has collaborated with world-renowned artists such as Philippe Parreno, a contemporary French artist, and Angela Bulloch, a young British artist. Currently, the gallery represents more than fifty artists, such as Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Liam Gillick, and Hito Steyerl.
According to the Seoul Economic Daily, Esther Schiffer’s Seoul branch will host various programs other than exhibitions, including lectures, performances, talks, and music events. Additionally, they will sell performance, video, and installation works that are often considered non-traditional.
The gallery’s founder and art dealer, Esther Schipper, stated that the gallery would search for sustainable ways to contribute to the art world and find a place in the Korean art scene. The gallery will continue to encourage its represented artists to work in Korea and collaborate with Korean galleries and Korean-based artists.
The gallery does not currently represent Korean artists but has worked on several projects with artists Yeesookyung, Im Heung-soon, and Minjung Kim.
For the opening exhibition, the Esther Schiffer gallery will display new and significant works by represented artists on all three floors of the building.
The Portuguese art gallery Duarte Sequeira opened a location in Seoul on the second floor of the Hyunjoon Yoo Architects building in the Gangnam district on September 1 as well. The gallery’s Seoul branch will be led by Hannah Yun, alongside programming directors Duarte Sequeira and Despoina Tzanou.
Duarte Sequeira, the programming director and co-founder of the gallery, is the son of Mario Sequeira, the renowned gallerist whose exhibition first introduced Andy Warhol to Portugal.
The gallery “aims to introduce their artists’ works to a broader audience and produce challenging, thoughtful, and exciting exhibitions with a strong focus on research and awareness of the current global art scene.”
Duarte Sequeira Seoul currently features Twilight Symphonies of The Analogue Frog, a solo exhibition by London-based artist Tom Howse (b. 1988).
By expanding their existing spaces, international galleries that already have a location in Seoul are expanding their presence in the country.
Pace’s Seoul outpost opened in a relatively confined space in 2017, but by May 2021, it had relocated to a building with ample space, occupying two-floor areas, which is its current location. In March of this year, when the Jo Malone store on the building’s first floor was vacated, the gallery decided to add additional space.
The white cube space on the upper two floors features more traditional artworks such as paintings, sculptures, and installations, while the ground floor space is used as a black box to showcase digital, technological, and media-based artworks.
The decision to add an additional space during the Frieze Seoul and Kiaf SEOUL fairs on September 3 was made after Marc Glimcher, CEO of Pace Gallery, and Youngjoo Lee, Vice President of Pace Seoul, met with the chairman of Amorepacific Corporation and art collector, Suh Kyung-bae. The gallery will collaborate with Osulloc to run a teahouse on the ground floor with an art book store.
The teahouse faces a central courtyard, where interactive artworks by the Japanese collective teamLab are currently on display. In the courtyard, the gallery intends to display various sculptures.
Meanwhile, on August 27, a few days before the opening of the joint Frieze and Kiaf art fairs, Perrotin, which had been running a space in the Jongno district, opened its second Seoul branch in Dosan Park in Gangnam.
“The Korean art market has been growing rapidly with its solid collector base, attractive and competitive groups of artists, and a variety of infrastructure that makes it easy to access art,” said Emmanuel Perrotin, the owner of the gallery. He added, “Operating two exhibition spaces reaffirms our confidence in the Korean art market and reflects our strong will to grow with Seoul’s vibrant cultural scene.”
The Perrotin represents Korean artists such as Park Seo-bo, Lee Bae, and GaHee Park.