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Top 10 Korean Exhibitions to See during Kiaf & Frieze Seoul 2023

Aproject Company

《Pen, Library, Funkchestra; Play of Desire, Order & Sense》

《Pen, Library, Funkchestra; Play of Desire, Order & Sense》 promo poster ⓒ Aproject Company

Aproject Company presents Hong Kyoungtack’s solo exhibition 《Pen, Library, Funkchestra; Play of Desire, Order & Sense》, which will take place from September 6 to October 28, 2023. This exceptional exhibition, marking Hong’s return to Seoul after nearly nine years since his solo exhibition at Perigee Gallery in 2014, will feature over 30 representative works spanning from the artist’s early works in the 1990s to his renowned series, including “Pen,” “Library,” and “Funkchestra.”

Hong made his debut with his first solo exhibition, 《Shrine》, at Insa Art Space in 2000 and has since gained recognition as an artist who seamlessly combines artistic integrity with mass appeal. Notably, he made history in 2007 as the first Korean artist to achieve a record-breaking auction price of approximately KRW 780 million at Christie’s in Hong Kong, solidifying his position as a leading Korean painter with the potential for global success.

Among the series presented in this exhibition, the Pen series, although seemingly comprised of everyday objects, delves into the dual and obsessive desires of modern individuals. The pens, despite their seemingly lightweight nature, are laden with allegorical elements such as skulls and dolls emerging from pen caps, intricately composed visuals, and the implied weight of writing.


The Library series draws inspiration from late Joseon Dynasty bookshelves, juxtaposing sleek-textured plastic-like books, solitary figures, and elements reminiscent of traditional paintings within seemingly enclosed bookshelves. By modernizing the space of the reclusive scholar, the artist captures the conflicting and proliferating desires of contemporary individuals. Additionally, the Funkchestra series, a fusion of “Funk” and “Orchestra,” showcases Hong‘s progressive artistic world where he intersects color and black-and-white, abstract and realism, the sacred and the profane, closure and release, high culture and popular culture, painting and design, as well as religion and pornography.

During the exhibition, Aproject Company will also host special lectures on “Strategies for the Global Expansion of Contemporary Korean Art” and “The Artistic World of Hong Kyoungtack,” aligning with the growing international interest in Korean culture and art.



《PANORAMA》 artwork, Hoyeon Kang, The Ones I Held, 2023 ⓒ SONGEUN

The SONGEUN is hosting the group exhibition 《PANORAMA》 from August 16 to October 28, 2023. This exhibition provides an in-depth exploration of artists from different generations who delve into various themes and mediums to present a multi-pronged representation of the current state of Korean art. The participating roster consists of 16 artists: Anna Anderegg, GRAYCODE, jiin, Seunghye Hong, Hyunsun Jeon, Ho-Yeon Kang, Jiyoung Keem, Young Eun Kim, Inbai Kim, Hyewon Kwon, Jinju Lee, Heejoon Lee, Grim Park, Jaye Rhee, Sungsil Ryu, Rae Jung Sim.

The exhibition features a diverse array of works, including Seunghye Hong’s video works, which portray participating artists in distinct forms, Lee Jin-joo’s Lowlands expressed on fabric scrolls, Grim Park’s series Simhodo, a combination of Buddhist narratives and personal sexuality, and Rae Jung Sim’s multimedia works that unravel stories based on hypotheses. In addition, on the basement level of the SONGEUN building, a ‘Special Program’ will be conducted in a relay format by artists Ho-Yeon Kang, Anna Anderegg, Young Eun Kim, the artist duo GRAYCODE and jiin, involving performances and sound installations. This program aims to support artists engaged in multidisciplinary endeavors that extend beyond specific mediums.

 Over the past three decades, the SONGEUN has provided exhibition opportunities and support for the nation’s accomplished artists. In alignment with the KIAF and Frieze Seoul 2023, the foundation conceived 《PANORAMA》. Instead of consolidating the artistic trajectories of participating artists under a common theme, the focus of the exhibition is to harmoniously link independent narratives and interrelationships. Embracing the expansive view suggested by the exhibition’s title, it aspires for viewers to collectively contemplate the dynamic landscape of Korean art.

Atelier Hermès

《Nine Colors & Nine Furniture》

《Nine Colors & Nine Furniture》 installation view ⓒ Sangtae KIM / Foundation D’entreprise Hermès

From July 28 to October 8, 2023, Atelier Hermès is hosting the solo exhibition 《Nine Colors & Nine Furniture》 by the painter Meena Park. Exploring the societal and cultural mechanisms of contemporary times reflected in the fundamental elements of color and form in painting, Park has systematically expressed her art since 1999 by collecting a wide range of commercial paints and universal templates to create her paintings. These series include “House,” “Sky,” “Coloring Book Drawing,” “Scream,” “Color Collecting,” and “Dingbat,” hinting at the visual cultural context underlying the image or color palette. The core method in the artist’s work, “Color Collecting,” encompasses a variety of pigments, spanning from paints for canvases to household paints, colored pencils, ballpoint pens, and cosmetics. The most vibrant spectrum resulting from this act of color collection is revealed in the series Nine Colors, Nine Furniture(2023) featured in this exhibition.

Starting with the “Orange Painting” in 2003, this ongoing series was realized in 2004 as Nine Colors and Nine Furniture. This series stands as a representative body of Park’s work. The pieces involve the collection and investigation of nine types of commercially available paints with names like Black, Blue, Green, Gray, Orange, Red, Violet, White, and Yellow. These paints are applied as 1cm-thick stripes in the order of manufacturers, then combined with various geometric forms of household furniture, presenting a juxtaposition. Returning to the same format after a remarkable 19 years, Nine Colors, Nine Furniture(2023) encapsulates not only formal similarities with its predecessor but also tangible changes in the industrial system related to paints, the societal conventions indicated by paint names, the purpose of paintings, and visible shifts in Korea’s residential culture. With a remarkable 1134 types of paint condensed through the artist’s brushwork labor, the work serves as a “painting about painting” that questions the history of paints and representation, bearing reflective significance and a critical role.

MMCA Seoul

《Kim Kulim》

Velázquez, ‘Juan de Pareja (ca. 1608–1670),’ 1650. Purchase, Fletcher and Rogers Funds, and Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876-1967), by exchange, supplemented by gifts from friends of the Museum, 1971.

From August 25, 2023, to February 12, 2024, MMCA Seoul (National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul) presents the solo exhibition 《Kim Kulim》. Kim Kulim, a pioneer in experimental art, will be showcased in this exhibition. From the 1950s onwards, Kim has traversed various media, genres, and subjects such as video art, installation, printmaking, performance, and painting, constructing his unique artistic domain. This exhibition sheds light on the avant-garde aspects of the artist’s career.

Despite holding a significant position in the history of Korean contemporary art, there have been limited opportunities to deeply experience Kim Kulim’s works. This exhibition aims to reaffirm Kim’s artistic achievements and examine his contemporary trajectory. It introduces his early paintings produced in the early 1960s when he engaged with existential issues following the Korean War, his performances and installations that were central to Korean experimental art in the 1960s and 1970s, and his ongoing series Yin and Yang since the mid-1980s. Additionally, large installations and performances that integrate film, dance, music, and theater are showcased to capture his contemporary essence.

Kim’s comprehensive activities and fearless challenges since the 1950s were reactions to the times and resistance against conventions. For those living in different eras, his realm might seem unfamiliar at first glance. Hence, 《Kim Kulim》focuses on conveying the artist’s world as completely as possible, which was partially understood before. It also hopes to offer viewers an opportunity to revisit pivotal moments in Kim’s career, trace his journey, and expand their understanding of Korean art history.

MMCA Seoul

《MMCA Hyundai Motors Series 2023 : Jung Yeondoo》

artist Jung Yeondoo ⓒ MMCA

From September 6, 2023, to February 25, 2023, MMCA Seoul presents 《MMCA Hyundai Motors Series 2023 : Jung Yeondoo》, showcasing approximately five new works by the artist Jung Yeondoo.

The “MMCA Hyundai Motors Series” is a program organized by the MMCA and sponsored by Hyundai Motor Company, aimed at supporting prominent mid-career artists in South Korea. Since its inception in 2014, this annual program has provided opportunities for mid-career artists to realize large-scale new works, allowing them to make new artistic transitions and contributing to the vitality of contemporary Korean art. This year marks the 10th iteration, and Jung Yeondoo is the selected artist, following previous selections of artists such as Lee Bul in 2014, Ahn Kyuchul in 2015, Kim Sooja in 2016, Im Heung-soon in 2017, Choi Jeonghwa in 2018, Park Chan-kyong in 2019, Yang Hyegyeong in 2020, Moon Kyungwon & Jeon Joonho in 2021, and Choi Wooram in 2022.

Jung Yeondoo, active since 1998, has garnered acclaim in the domestic and international art scenes through his photography, video, and installation works that pose questions about the relationship between reality and image, presence and illusion, and individual and society. He has exhibited his works at various international art events such as the Venice Biennale Korean Pavilion, Venice Architecture Biennale Korean Pavilion, Gwangju Biennale, Shanghai Biennale, and Istanbul Biennale, among others. He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in South Korea, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Japan, Taiwan, and China.

In 《MMCA Hyundai Motors Series 2023 : Jung Yeondoo》, Jung will present five new works, including the video installation One Hundred Years’ Journey. Departing from the narrative of Korean immigration to Mexico in the early 20th century, the works explore the meaning of existence that moves and translates across national boundaries in contemporary times. The exhibition further delves into the complexity of migration, the relationships between generations surrounding migration, and the overlapping senses that arise at the intersections of different cultures.

Leeum Museum of Art

《How to become a rock》,

《How to become a rock》 promo image ⓒ Leeum Museum of Art

The Leeum Museum of Art is hosting a solo exhibition 《How to become a rock》 by the prominent Korean contemporary artist Kim Beom. The exhibition is scheduled to take place from July 27, 2023, to December 3, 2023. It presents a comprehensive survey of works spanning from the early 1990s to the mid-2010s, including around 70 artworks that have not been previously exhibited in South Korea, encompassing initial paintings and overseas collections.

Kim Beom’s creative process is rooted in philosophical considerations that attribute life or soul to all materials, the awareness of the gap between the visible and its essence, and the unfolding of hypothetical narratives that challenge societal conventions. In his works, themes range from a cheetah chasing nutrition to a dog breaking through walls, a boat existing even when the sea is absent, and car keys transforming into mountain landscapes. Kim’s distinctive simplistic style and exceptional ideas blend harmoniously, revealing a realm of truth obscured by societal norms and overturning the principles of the world alongside visual pleasure. His pursuit of static and ascetic formalism is conveyed through his self-reflective imperative, “What you see is not all there is,” which discards all conventional thinking to awaken new and different ways of “seeing.”

The exhibition title, “How to become a rock,” is extracted from Kim Beom’s artist’s book titled “Alchemy”(1997). Rather than directly referencing the book’s content, the exhibition extends its scope to explore the laws present in a world dominated by power and control. It reflects upon identities formed within standardized education and their mutable relationships. Kim examines human contradictions, the gap between image and reality, and the material and immaterial dimensions of art. The seemingly amateurish acts of craftsmanship redefine the relationship between the material and immaterial aspects of art, while the intentional low-fi sensibility quietly resists homogenized thought, irrespective of speed or trends.

Art Sonje Center


《off-site》 promo image ⓒ Art Sonje Center

Art Sonje Center presents the exhibition 《Off-Site》 from August 18 to October 8, 2023. This exhibition leverages both the interior and exterior spaces of Art Sonje Center. Participating artists, including GRAYCODE jiiiiin, Jong Oh, Yona Lee, Choi Goen, Hyun Nahm, Jungyoon Hyen. utilize the functional spaces within the art center such as the theater, the backstage area, dressing room, garden, stairways, the mechanical rooms, and the rooftop, not only as exhibition venues but also as essential materials for their creative expressions. They experiment with their sculptural languages and artistic practices within and around the art center’s premises, offering an immersive experience for visitors.

This exhibition establishes a connection with the history of Art Sonje Center, dating back to 1995 when the art center had yet to be constructed. It aligns with the site-specific exhibition 《Sprout》, which was held to explore the spatial significance of the existing location. At that time, artists such as Bahc Yiso, Ahn Kyuchul, Lee Bul, and Choi Jeong hwa responded with artworks that interacted with the logical configuration of the space. This endeavor not only preserved memories associated with the former residential space but also invigorated the artists’ imaginations regarding the transformation of that space into an art center. This departure from the traditional exhibition structure of artist-work-audience led to dynamic communication and the operation of a multifaceted network. The history of Art Sonje Center, initiated by 《Sprout》, has since expanded into various 《Off-Site》 exhibitions, showcasing sculpture and installation projects within functional spaces, transcending the boundaries of conventional exhibition halls.

《Off-Site》 observes the contemporary artists’ new perceptions and attitudes towards the tangible and intangible, phenomena and perceptions, surrounding spaces. The vertical architecture of the art center and the radial configuration of the exhibition space, along with connecting staircases and facilities, and the interior and rooftop gardens of Art Sonje Center, all become interconnected and detached once more through the sculptural practices and sensory experiences of the participating artists. 《Off-Site》 also offers a distinct viewing experience for the audience. Visitors, guided by a printed map provided at the information desk, embark on an exploration of both the interior and exterior spaces of the art center, discovering the artworks along their journey. Navigating the path to spaces like the dressing room, backstage, and machinery room, which are typically closed to the general public, may seem unfamiliar and challenging. In such instances, the “off-site” stickers placed throughout the building serve as guides to locating the artworks. To discover artist Hyun Nam’s new work, not detailed on the map, visitors must seek hints within the machinery room. This exhibition encourages visitors to actively engage in exploring the various corners of the art center, offering a fresh perspective on the architecture of Art Sonje Center.

Gallery Hyundai

《Botched art: the meanderings of Sung Neung Kyung》

Installation View of 《Botched art: the meanderings of Sung Neung Kyung》 ⓒ Gallery Hyundai

Gallery Hyundai is hosting Sung Neung Kyung’s solo exhibition 《Botched Art: The Meanderings of Sung Neung Kyung》, which will be held from August 23rd to October 8th, 2023. This exhibition marks the first collaboration between Gallery Hyundai and Sung Neung Kyung, who has been recognized as a pioneer of “Korean Conceptual Art” after Gallery Hyundai’s reevaluation of Korean experimental art in the early 2010s. The exhibition’s title, “Botched Art” and “Meanderings,” encapsulate the artist’s philosophy, which aims to offer glimpses of thought at the intersection of life and art. Throughout his lifetime, Sung has steadfastly maintained a non-mainstream attitude, even naming his own work “botched art” and reflecting on traditional artistic aesthetics. He has also continued to practice variations of “meanderings” or performances, questioning established artistic conventions and the conditions of human existence.

The exhibition, 《Botched Art》, features over 140 works representing each era of the artist’s career, offering a retrospective of his artistic world. Representative works from the 1970s, such as Contraction and Expansion, consist of 12 photographs documenting the act of inflating and deflating the body to its extremes. Index Finger is a series of 17 photographs capturing changes in camera focus as the artist’s index finger moves in front of the camera lens. The 1980s series, presented in a site-specific photographic-installation format, involves the reassembly of newspaper photographs. Works from the 1990s to the 2000s, including S’s Posterity: Botched Art Is More Beautiful and Master Bedroom, delve into the artist’s personal life as both a full-time artist and a parent of four children. These works serve as a reflection of his personal life and exemplify the concept of “botched art.”

Furthermore, performances embodying a philosophical exploration of “Art is short, and life’s journey is long,” as well as works from the 2010s like Everyday English, Handwashing, and Drawing by Your Bottom created by the elderly experimental artist, explore the interstices between daily life and art. This comprehensive exhibition meticulously showcases Sung’s work from each generation, emphasizing the enduring nature of his existence as he has quietly navigated through the past century.

Barakat Contemporary

《Of Hundred Carts and on》

《Of Hundred Carts and on》 promo poster ⓒ Barakat Contemporary

Barakat Contemporary hosts Jewyo Rhii’s first solo exhibition at the gallery 《Of Hundred Carts and on》, which will be held from August 31, 2023, to October 27, 2023. This exhibition, centered around the artist’s Love Your Depot project, which has been the focus of her work since 2019, draws attention to the evolving nature of her recent works and her awareness of issues surrounding the peripheries of established art systems that have been central to her artistic practice for over two decades.

Rhii is renowned for creating narratives through the combination of temporary and mutable everyday materials, stemming from her own experiences and the conditions she encounters. However, her work extends beyond the personal and idiosyncratic, as she employs various mediums to challenge familiar conventions and confront the conflicts inherent in the social and artistic systems. Her diverse body of work, spanning drawing, installation, and public sculpture, offers fresh perspectives on established exhibition methods and conventional norms.

The Love Your Depot series got awarded the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea’s 2019 Korea Artist Prize. Currently, these works are displayed as public art in Gungmaeul Park in Suseo-dong, Gangnam-gu, preserving and exhibiting pieces that exist beyond the logic of the mainstream art market. This “open storage” functions as both a technical device ensuring the survival of works beyond their exhibition and a political statement. In 《Of Hundred Carts and on》, Rhii presents her significant works, including Lie on the Han River (2003–), Unidentified (En)Lightening Object (2004–2017), and Typewriter (2010–), alongside works by fellow artists, all on depots. These works, which begin as personal narratives and culminate through the participation of others, serve as vehicles for storytelling based on the essence of objects. With her works transitioning from wood to metal as the primary material, she demonstrates her commitment to enhancing safety and sustainability while embracing diversity in her artistic direction.

Hakgojae Gallery

《Come Sit with Me》

LEE Woosung, Come Sit with Me, Acrylic gouache on canvas, 2023 ⓒ Hakgojae Gallery

Hakgojae Gallery presents Woosung LEE’s first solo exhibition 《Come Sit with Me》, running from August 9, 2023, to September 13, 2023. Woosung LEE, known for his portrayal of contemporary youth through everyday scenes, seamlessly embodies the essence of Korean painting, reflecting the contemporary spirit of our times. He draws inspiration from various forms, including still life, folk painting, genre painting, Buddhist paintings, caricatures, and the signboards of theaters that were popular in the last century. Viewing painting as the voice of a particular era and the soul of the times, the artist meticulously examines the significance of all events and occasions encountered in life, encouraging the audience to feel them through their own sensibilities and perspectives.

《Come Sit with Me》 is a project that takes inspiration from the hand stencil paintings discovered in the Sulawesi caves of Indonesia, dating back 40,000 years. Altamira in Spain, Lascaux in France, Sulawesi in Indonesia, and Banwoldang in Ulsan, Korea, each celebrate the joys of life and the inexplicable forces of nature in different time-spaces. Lee, like the people of ancient times, believes that leaving signals of the dynamism of our current time-space and the communication between people is the essence of painting. Therefore, he unites diverse themes such as the happiness of a family sharing fruit, paintings left in ancient ruins, and contemporary symbols, presenting a new landscape and narrative. Furthermore, paintings of three young women, celebrating moments of extreme beauty, and depictions of the artist’s acquaintances illuminate the meaning of life in our time.

Lee always delves into the issues of the individual and the whole. His paintings, each with its unique significance, come together to reveal the meaning of our era and existence when viewed as a whole. Thus, employing a narrative structure where all parts converge to create a whole, Lee embodies the life and subconsciousness of young adults living in this era. Just as the exhibition title suggests, he invites the audience of this era to form a meaningful whole.

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