Sotheby’s is celebrating its 50th anniversary in Asia by opening a new space in Seoul’s Hannam-dong neighborhood, located inside the Hannam Hwawon Building. This 150-square-meter space will serve as a platform for exhibitions, discussions, and workshops. Jane Yoon, the managing director of Sotheby’s in South Korea, expressed excitement about having a permanent presence in the capital and the opportunity to engage with both established and young collectors. This move is expected to attract the emerging generation of collectors in South Korea, including millennials and Gen Z, as younger entrepreneurs have been increasingly participating in Sotheby’s global sales, with South Korea producing a significant number of new buyers since 2020.
While the new location won’t be ready for Frieze Seoul, Sotheby’s is planning a joint exhibition featuring works by British artist Banksy and the late American artist Keith Haring at Paradise Art Space starting on September 5th. This initiative reflects Sotheby’s commitment to engaging with the vibrant art scene in Seoul and further expanding its presence in the Asian art market.
A a global contemporary gallery, Gagosian, has appointed Jiyoung Lee to lead its operations in South Korea, aiming to strengthen its presence in the Asian art market. With 15 years of experience in both Western and South Korean galleries, including Sprüth Magers, Esther Schipper, and PKM Gallery, Lee is well suited for this role. She has also organized exhibitions for prominent artists like Barbara Kruger and Andreas Gursky at the Amorepacific Museum of Art in Seoul. Gagosian’s decision to have someone with deep ties to Korea and the local community reflects its commitment to expanding its activities in the region, serving Korean institutions and collectors more effectively.
While Gagosian has not confirmed plans to open an exhibition space in Korea, the gallery’s senior director in Asia, Nick Simunovic, mentioned that “all options were on the table.” Gagosian has been present in Asia for over a decade, having established its first space in Hong Kong in 2011. This moves to appoint Jiyoung Lee signifies the gallery’s intention to further engage in the primary and secondary art markets in Korea and represents an acknowledgement of the growing importance of the Korean art scene in the global art landscape.
Artist Jung Yeondoo’s new exhibition, titled MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2023: Jung Yeondoo – One Hundred Years of Travels, delves into the narratives of Korean immigrants in Mexico during the early 1900s. The exhibition, held at the Seoul branch of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA), is the first large-scale showcase of Jung’s work at the MMCA in 15 years. Sponsored by Hyundai Motor, it features four new artworks, including One Hundred Years of Travels,’ ‘Imaginary Song,’ ‘Generational Portrait,’ and ‘Wall of Blades,’ as well as the 2022 work ‘One Hundred Years of Travels Prologue.’ The exhibition employs videos, photos, and installations to explore the stories of Koreans who arrived in Merida, Mexico, in 1905 to work as indentured laborers on henequen farms. The artist conducted interviews with descendants of these immigrants and captured images of henequen farms during visits to the Yucatan Peninsula, all to reflect on themes of dislocation, the interplay between differences and familiarities, and generation gaps tied to migration.
The exhibition’s research-based approach encourages viewers to contemplate the experiences of immigrants and their voices in the context of hybridity and diverse, intermingled cultures. It aims to connect seemingly unrelated individuals across time and space, fostering a deeper understanding of the lives of immigrants and their complex stories. Through art, the exhibition invites viewers to engage with unfamiliar people and experiences, ultimately exploring the themes of relocation and foreignness in a way that transcends traditional boundaries and perceptions.