Art Market

The 7 Best Booths at Frieze Seoul 2022

Osman Can Yerebakan
Sep 3, 2022 5:06PM

Frieze Seoul 2022. Photo by Lets Studio. Courtesy of Lets Studio and Frieze.

Seoul did not become Asia’s new art market capital overnight, according to Frieze Seoul’s director Patrick Lee. Between running his own gallery for 13 years and, most recently, working for the city’s long-standing Gallery Hyundai, Lee has seen many contemporary Korean artists—including Do Ho Suh, Lee Bul, and Haegue Yang—gradually generate major art world interest in the country and its capital.

Over the past two years, Seoul has emerged as a market hub as a wave of Western galleries opened locations across the city. When, in 2021, Frieze announced plans for its Seoul edition, international interest only grew. This groundswell of attention culminated this week as Frieze opened its inaugural art fair in Asia, in the heart of Seoul’s business-oriented Gangnam district.

On its opening day, September 2nd, Frieze Seoul greeted an eager, energetic crowd. Long lines spanned the second floor of COEX, a massive, multipurpose convention and shopping center which houses the fair. Clearly, the city is ready to claim a place at the global art scene’s table. “The international galleries are looking forward to meeting Korean collectors, too,” Lee told Artsy; the enthusiasm is mutual.

Installation view of Tina Kim Gallery’s booth at Frieze Seoul, 2022. Photo by Lets Studio. Courtesy of Lets Studio and Frieze.


For its expansion to Asia, the British export joined forces with Galleries Association of Korea and Kiaf, Seoul’s homegrown art fair. Kiaf opened its 21st iteration this week, with its most international programming to date. While Frieze Seoul brings over 100 exhibitors to the second floor of COEX, Kiaf brings 164 galleries to the first floor.

“Why not create something more powerful together?” Lee said about the two fairs’ collaboration. He thinks “the city’s positive attitude, convenient location within Asia, and fairly attractive business policies,” are among the reasons for Seoul’s new status as the region’s art hub. “And don’t forget: This is a city full of art institutions, such as Leeum Museum of Art or National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.” Lee has already set his eyes on collaborating with local nonprofits for next year’s iteration. Here are Artsy’s picks for the can’t-miss booths at Frieze Seoul.

Kukje Gallery

Booth A13

With works by Jean-Michel Othoniel, Yoo Youngkuk, and Kibong Rhee

Jean-Michel Othoniel
Nœud Sauvage (Wild Knot), 2020
Kukje Gallery
Yoo Youngkuk
Mountain, 1973
Kukje Gallery

Many of Seoul’s established galleries exhibit at both Frieze and Kiaf, representing similar artists for potentially different collector bases. Kukje Gallery, which features two Korea locations—one in Seoul’s gallery-filled Samcheong district and one in the southern port city of Busan—is a 40-year-old institution that champions artists from both Korea and around the world.

The gallery’s booth embodies this duality with a large group display and catchy pairings. French sculptor Jean-Michel Othoniel’s large-scale, gray, mirrored glass bead sculpture, Nœud Sauvage (2020), hangs adjacent to late Korean painter Yoo Youngkuk’s Mountain (1973), an abstract landscape in shades of green. The former’s bodily roundedness subtly contrasts the poetic sharpness of the painting’s hilly forms.

Nature is also the protagonist in Korean artist Kibong Rhee’s large-scale plexiglass, acrylic, and mixed-media painting of a large tree. Its title, Backside of the memory (2016), and foggy surface perfectly capture the evanescence of recollection.


Booth A34

With works by Heidi Voet, Lin Ke, Sun Yitian, Bony Ramirez, Ivana de Vivanco, Michael Najjar, and Michael Lin

Installation view of BANK’s booth at Frieze Seoul, 2022. Photo by Lets Studio. Courtesy of Lets Studio and Frieze.

Shanghai-based gallery BANK has mounted an eye-catching booth with an explosive, candy-colored facade. A group of equally vibrant figurative paintings hangs inside.

Peruvian Chilean artist Ivana de Vivanco’s Dripping Around (2022) juxtaposes two energetic figures in striking pastel hues. Humor infuses in their weightless, determined postures. Dominican American painter Bony Ramirez’s similarly colorful, comical painting Oro Fino (2022) shows one of the artist’s signature semi-human, semi-animal figures: a woman with the legs of a feline and the torso of an ostrich.


Booth F5

With works by Hejum Bä

Hejum Bä, Table turning, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Whistle.

Another beloved local gallery, Whistle is located in the city’s other gallery district, Itaewon, where international powerhouses including Pace Gallery and Lehmann Maupin have also set up shop.

Just five years old, the gallery is celebrated for its vibrant roster of young Korean artists. They’ve devoted their fair booth to one of them, giving Hejum Bä a solo presentation. Her rich oil paintings fill the booth’s white walls with colorful geometries. Her paintings dance between dreamy landscapes and pure abstractions, featuring fluid edges and small hints of specific sites. Whistle’s presentation is part of the fair’s Focus Asia programming, organized by curators Christopher Y. Lew and Hyejung Han and highlighting galleries from around Asia—from Tehran, Mumbai, Jakarta, and beyond.


Booth F1

With works by Sungsil Ryu

Sungsil Ryu, BigKing Travel Ching Chen Tour-Mr. Kim’s Revival 2019, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and P21.

Another Focus Asia standout is one of Seoul’s other young darlings, P21. The gallery has mounted a frenetic mixed-media installation by young new media artist Sungsil Ryu. The funny, chaotic work is made up of video screens displayed within an oozing, theatrical structure that seems ripped from some dystopian video game. Ryu offers a tongue-in-cheek take on Korean youth culture via an imaginary travel advertisement. This piece of the installation tackles contemporary cults, pop consumerism, internet phenomena, and the media—and features the artist’s own singer father, who is a local celebrity.


Booth B16

With works by Haegue Yang, Nairy Bagrahmian, Leonor Antunes, Danh Vo, Gabriel Orozco, Oscar Murillo, Roberto Gil de Montes, Gabriel Kuri, and Rikrit Tiravanija

Haegue Yang, The Intermediate—Frosty Pom-Pom Shield with Cross Forehead, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and kurimanzutto.

The booth for Mexican gallery kurimanzutto includes a whimsical, monstrous fuzzy sculpture by Berlin and Seoul–based artist Haegue Yang. Entitled The Intermediate—Frosty Pom-Pom Shield with Cross Forehead (2020), the piece hangs from the wall, its thick, furry white surface hiding various bells, which chime and activate the space.

Unlike the sculptures in Handles, the artist’s 2019 exhibition in MoMA’s atrium, this work is immobile. Yet the bells’ sounds still promise immediate engagement with the viewer. The red pom-pom accents add another dose of fun.

Tina Kim Gallery

Booth B7

With works by Ghada Amer, Davide Balliano, Minouk Lim, Pacita Abad, Mire Lee, Ha Chong-Hyun, Park Seo-Bo, Kim Tschang-Yeul, and Tania Pérez Córdova

Mire Lee
Eyes of the Grapes, 2022
Tina Kim Gallery
Kim Tschang-Yeul
Waterdrops, 1990
Tina Kim Gallery

New York’s Tina Kim Gallery champions the careers and legacies of an intergenerational roster of Korean artists, bringing their work to the American public. In her home country, Kim displays a range of mostly Korean artists, though she’s also brought works by Davide Balliano, Tania Pérez Córdova, and Ghada Amer.

Late painter Kim Tschang-Yeul’s meticulously rendered, poetic paintings of water drops on burlap are paired with Park Seo-Bo’s hallucinatory abstractions: prints and traditional Hanji paper reliefs in dusty hues of yellow and purple. Nearby hangs Seoul and Amsterdam–based artist Mire Lee’s subtle, suspended concrete sculpture, Eyes of the Grapes (2022). With a handful of hollow forms, it casts a ghostly shadow into the corner of the booth.

Barry X Ball with LG OLED

Courtesy of Barry X Ball Studio, Inc.

Courtesy of Barry X Ball Studio, Inc.

Among hundreds of gallery booths, Korean technology company LG presents its collaboration with New York–based artist Barry X Ball. The display includes one of Ball’s biomorphic marble sculptures, which invites viewers to inspect its corporeal accents. Both demure and alarming, the sculpture’s shiny surface seems both liquid and alive.

In contrast to the sculpture’s tactility, the artist’s NFT collaboration with LG runs on adjacent TV screens. Altogether titled Granulo-Specular Chiaroscuro Meta-Morphs (Alchemic Black Steel, Alchemic Gold, Alchemic Silver, Alchemic Copper), the NFTs show different gold or silver sculptures of bodily forms, their hyperreal quality tricking the onlookers’ eyes.

Osman Can Yerebakan