The Busan Annual Market of Art (BAMA), an art fair organized by the Galleries Association of Busan, reported that it attracted a total of 100,000 visitors, hitting a record high of 25 billion KRW in sales—the highest ever.
The eleventh edition of the fair ran from April 7 through April 10 at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center in the southern port city of Busan.
This year’s result was more than 3 to 4 times the sales volume in 2021, which was a total of 6.5 billion KRW, and more than twice the 40,000 visitors received last year. Even compared with 2019 before the outbreak of COVID-19, the market showed a considerably different sentiment. In 2019, the local art market significantly slowed down and BAMA’s total sales only reached 3.9 billion KRW.
The fair’s total sales record for this year also greatly exceeded that of Seoul’s Galleries Art Fair, an art fair organized by the Galleries Association of Korea, which closed on March 20. During its 5 days, the Galleries Art Fair attracted 53,000 visitors and recorded an all-time high of 17.7 billion KRW in sales.
Given the fact that BAMA was held outside the Seoul metropolitan area, such results prove that the boom in the Korean contemporary art markets is not just limited to Seoul but has spread nationwide.
With a straight increase in sales since last year, BAMA has expanded its target audience by changing its direction in line with this trend. In 2019, the fair mainly focused on reaching out to local collectors in Busan and Gyeongsang-do, the southern part of the country, with missions that reflect the local market.
This year, the fair used the advertising slogan “Add value to Art, Reduce Carbon, Share the Public Interest” to reflect wider values and collaborated with various companies such as the Hyundai department store and an NFT art market platform Nikplace to expand the event’s presence in other regions and digital spaces.
“Compared to last year, a number of Seoul collectors with great purchasing power as well as many artists, curators, and art museum officials from all over the country visited this year’s event,” said BAMA’s director Kim Jong-won during an interview with Seoul Economic Daily.
A number of participants at the fair mentioned that most of the sales were led by emerging living artists. Director Kim, in the interview, added that the show was successful with visitors lining up to buy works by young living artists, such as Yang Jong Young’s moss paintings, Lee Yelin’s illustration and digital printings, and Jackson Shim’s graffiti-like pop art paintings. Some also added that most of the sold-out works had a relatively lower price range and were by emerging artists.
The boost in interest in art collecting that is particularly strong among young collectors seemed to increase the demand for works by young living artists. Many market observers noted that, as younger collectors are highly demanding of connection and engagement, they tend to favor works by peer artists because these works express the zeitgeist in which they live, and thus, the artists and collectors share a similar cultural norm. , which often lead them to
Since the Busan art market has been showing significant signs of growth, the expectations for Art Busan, an art fair scheduled to be held next month from May 12 to May 15, are also growing.