• Shows
  • Aug 31, 2022

What’s Showing in Seoul, September 2022

TAO HUI, Being Will, 2021, still from single-channel video with sound and color: 12 min 3 sec. Courtesy the artist and Kiang Malingue, Hong Kong.

Contemporary art’s global K-boom is circling back to Seoul starting this month. The big K-motion is being stirred by the arrival of Frieze Seoul, the first outpost in Asia for the Anglo-American fair. More than 110 galleries from 20 countries are pitching up at the Coex convention and exhibition center in Gangnam from September 2 to 5. But Frieze isn’t the only art destination at Coex; long-running domestic fair Kiaf Seoul is happening simultaneously, bringing together 164 galleries from 17 countries and territories for its 21st edition, including 37 first-time exhibitors. Kiaf’s inaugural satellite fair Kiaf Plus, which focuses on new-media art and NFTs, also opens in Gangnam on September 1 at the Seoul Trade Exhibition Center.

The city’s cultural institutions are also buzzing with major exhibitions. The cutting-edge private art center Art Sonje is hosting a solo exhibition for Thai director Korakrit Arunanondchai and premiering a new immersive installation, Mobile Agora: Seoul Weather Station (2022), by the duo Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho. The Seoul Museum of Art has organized a retrospective of the veteran conceptual artist Chung Seoyoung, “What I Saw Today,” spanning three decades of her practice. Meanwhile at the Leeum Museum of Art, the group exhibition “Cloud Walkers” spotlights 20-odd leading Asian artists. For those arriving and gathering in Seoul, here’s a look at some of the gallery exhibitions taking place across the city.

LEE SEUNG JIO, Nucleus 75-10, 1975, oil on canvas, 146 × 146 cm. Courtesy the artist’s estate and Kukje Gallery, Seoul. 

Lee Seung Jio
Sep 1 – Oct 30

A pioneer of Korean geometric abstraction, Lee Seung Jio is known as “the pipe artist” for his iconic pipe motif, which is painted repeatedly as cylindrical forms. Evoking effects of optical illusion, tensions between two- and three-dimensionality are ripe in Lee’s paintings, all of which are titled Nucleus. His retrospective at Kukje Gallery features paintings from the late 1960s to the late 1980s, and demonstrates Lee’s tireless experimentation with the pipe, transforming its directions, tones, and characteristics until his passing in 1990.

CHUNG CHANG-SUP, Meditation 91216, 1991, tak fiber on canvas, 140 × 240 cm. Courtesy the artist’s estate and PKM Gallery, Seoul. Copyright The Estate of Chung Chang-Sup.

Chung Chang-Sup
Aug 25 – Oct 15

A key member of the Dansaekhwa movement, Chung Chang-Sup primarily explored tak (mulberry bark fiber), the raw material of traditional Korean handmade hanji paper, in his decades-long practice. “Mind in Matter” presents two series of Chung’s mature works, Tak (1980s) and Meditation (1990–2000s). For Tak, Chung mixed tak with water and spread it onto the canvas to “reveal the work process and the natural passage of time,” while for Meditation, the artist pressed tak directly onto the canvas, producing a sculptural surface.

AYOUNG KIM, Evening Peak Time Is Back (feat. 1172 Character Illustration), 2022, wallpaper installation, 2055 × 289 cm. Image via Instagram. Courtesy Gallery Hyundai.

Ayoung Kim
Gallery Hyundai
Aug 10 – Sep 14

Korean artist Ayoung Kim weaves together intricate narratives via her extensive, multi-dimensional worldbuilding. Her solo exhibition “Syntax and Sorcery” follows the story of a woman who works as a rider for a massive delivery platform in a fictional, dystopian Seoul, enslaved by a near-omniscient AI who wields the power to distort time and space. Through video installations and sculptures, the show explores how Big Tech and their algorithms collect, control, and modify our identities and self-perception.

ADRIAN GHENIE, Self-Portrait with Paintbrush, 2022, charcoal on paper, 65 × 50 cm. Courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery, New York / London / Hong Kong / Palo Alto / Geneva / Seoul / East Hampton / Palm Beach. Copyright Adrian Ghenie. 

Adrian Ghenie
Sep 2 – Oct 22

Recognized for his uncanny oil portraits of public figures, Romanian artist Adrian Ghenie’s Asian debut at Pace Gallery will be the first to feature his recent charcoal drawings of varying sizes. Spreading across two floors, these 28 works visualize a society surrendered to modern technology. Masked with N95s and consumed in their electronic devices, the figures in his depictions are engaged with banal contemporary activities.

SONG BURNSOO, Possibility 022-II, 2022, object painting, 129.5 × 97 × 14 cm. Courtesy the artist and Gallery Baton, Seoul.

Song Burnsoo
Aug 23 – Sep 24

Postwar Korean artist Song Burnsoo’s practice encompasses printmaking, textile, and painting. Since the mid-1970, he has employed a thorn motif in his work as a metaphor for hope amidst the harsh and exhausting realities of war and conflict. In “Know Yourself,” Song showcases recent works featuring the thorn motif, where the sharp extensions resemble constellations of stars and planets, and encourage reflection on the seemingly minuteness of human conflict compared to the grand universe.

ANSELM KIEFERWer jetzt kein Haus hat. . ., 2016-2022, emulsion, oil, acrylic and shellac, lead, rope, sediment of an electrolysis, and chalk on canvas, 190 × 330 cm. Courtesy the artist and Thaddaeus Ropac, London / Paris / Salzburg / Seoul. Copyright Anselm Kiefer. 

Anselm Kiefer
Thaddaeus Ropac
Sep 1 – Oct 22

German artist Anselm Keifer creates works that represent collective memory through materials like dirt, dried leaves, glass, concrete, wire, and other found objects. Inspired by the writings of Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke about autumn, his exhibition “Wer jetzt kein Haus hat (Whoever has no house now)” features new canvases of oils, acrylics, shellac, lead, and rope, which depict the browning fall foliage of trees. A mud-brick installation, reminiscent of the neighborhood ruins Keifer grew up with in postwar Germany, will also be on view.

MCARTHUR BINION, Untitled, 2022, ink, oil paint stick, and paper on board, 121.9 × 182.9 cm. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York / Hong Kong / Seoul / London.

McArthur Binion
Lehmann Maupin
Sep 1 – Oct 22

Chicago-based “rural modernist” McArthur Binion’s oeuvre is characterized by laboriously conceived grid works that explore how abstraction can “both obscure and reveal aspects of identity.” His solo show at Lehmann Maupin features new paintings from the series DNA (2013– ) and Visual Ear (2021– ), created through his trademark application of ink, graphite, and oil stick onto tiled reproductions of personal documents, such as his birth certificate, address books, as well as sheet music composed by jazz musician Henry Threadgill under the artist’s commission.

DIEDRICK BRACKENS, the warmth of other suns, 2022, cotton and acrylic yarn, 221 × 271.8 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Various Small Fires Los Angeles / Dallas / Seoul.

Diedrick Brackens
Various Small Fires
Sep 1 – Oct 15

Texas-born Los Angeles-based textile artist Diedrick Brackens presents four new woven tapestries for his Asian debut, “together our shadows make a single belly.” Taking inspiration from Adinkra, pictorial symbols used by the Akan peoples of Ghana, the tapestries expand on Brackens’s approach on the silhouetted figure. Unlike his more painterly previous works, this group of tapestries sees the artist’s use of flatter, abstract “textile-specific” languages such as plaids, stripes, and checkers.

JONG OH, Line Sculpture #22, 2022, wood, marble, metal rod, and pencil line, 163 × 52 × 46 cm. Photo by Euirock Lee. Courtesy the artist and One and J. Gallery, Seoul. 

Jong Oh
One and J.
Aug 29 – Sep 30

“First Echo” is a showcase of ultra-minimalist sculptor Jong Oh’s site-specific practice, which draws attention to spatial situations. Oh uses fishing wire to create geometric sculptures comprising delicate fine lines, which evoke precise pencil markings on architectural plans. Oh’s poetic interventions into the gallery space subtly toy with our perception and awareness of the environment.

GHADA AMER, Julia’s Pink, 2005, acrylic, embroidery, and gel on canvas, 162.9 × 193.4 cm. Image via Instagram. Courtesy the artist and Tina Kim Gallery.

“The Cumulative Effect”
Songwon Art Center
Aug 30 – Sep 15

A trio of New York-based galleries—Tina Kim, Andrew Kreps, and Bortolami—teamed up for a group exhibition at the Songwon Art Center curated by American poet and critic John Yau. With a title derived from American artist Rebecca Morris’s 2013 tribute to Belgian painter Raoul De Keyser, the show challenges “old-world” perceptions of the avant-garde. Among the dozen participants are visual artist Suki Seokyeong Kang, filmmaker Minouk Lim, conceptual artist Daniel Buren, trapunto painter Pacita Abad, and abstract painter Rebecca Morris.

Related Articles