Art Market

The Artsy Advisor Notebook: September 2023

Artsy Editorial
Sep 15, 2023 1:57PM

In this monthly series, we gather thoughts and highlights from Artsy’s in-house art experts on what they’re seeing, looking forward to, and enjoying in the art world this month.

What We’re Noticing

The Seoul Art Week recap

Interior view of Frieze Seoul, 2023. Photo by Lets Studio. Courtesy of Frieze and Lets Studio.

The market remained slow but not frozen at Frieze Seoul and KIAF earlier this month. It was clear that buyers and sellers were willing to act on the right opportunities. This was especially true for emerging artists with high demand within the $20,000–$50,000 price range. Some spot-on booths at both fairs in this category were Timothy Taylor (Sahara Longe), Yutaka Kikutake Gallery (Yuko Mohri), Newchild Gallery (Madeleine Bialke), and Galerie Marguo (Ana Karkar).

Madeleine Bialke
Ever the dim beginning, 2023
Newchild Gallery

One consistent trend I’ve observed in recent Asian art fairs is that solo presentations of up-and-coming artists tend to sell very well. It’s a very effective strategy when foreign galleries focus on introducing their most sought-after artists to Asian collectors.

Many local collectors in Seoul were keen to seize this special opportunity to buy works at their hometown fair. “It’s much easier to focus when there is a solo representation amidst the overwhelming choices at art fairs,” one mega-collector from Seoul told me. Collectors were also drawn to the curatorial and aesthetic flourishes some galleries add to their fair booth presentations. “It’s refreshing to see solo booths painted in different colors that best represent the body of works,” the same collector noted.

Jenna Lee, Account Executive, Seoul

At Frieze Seoul and KIAF, I noticed an increased interest in contemporary abstract artworks. Like last year’s fairs, Korean masters such as Lee Ufan, Park Seo-bo, and Ha Chong-Hyun were well represented. This year’s exhibitors also responded to the enthusiasm for non-figurative works with a strong showing of works by newer generations of artists working in the genre.

Mary Weatherford’s luscious canvases at David Kordansky Gallery’s booth shone—literally, in the case of some works that incorporate neon elements, setting off milky blue and green washes of color, reminiscent of moonlight on a churning sea. Jimok Choi’s hazy, spotted canvas at Gallery Baton also saw considerable collector interest.

The work evoked the ghostly afterimages left on one’s retina after viewing bright lights. Following the spectacle of works on view at Frieze, I was left with a similar vision when I closed my eyes after a full week of art.

Elise Asher
Arrivederci, 1959–60
Eric Firestone Gallery

The works of young and mid-career artists were supported by strong showings of established abstractionists. Eric Firestone Gallery’s booth was filled with a selection of mid-century canvases by female Abstract Expressionist artists Pat Passlof, Jeanne Reynal, and Elise Asher; while Lehmann Maupin featured a new work by Lee Bul, a kaleidoscopic pink-toned acrylic painting dappled with mother-of-pearl.

After several years of a figurative craze in ultra-contemporary art, it’s exciting to see the tide shift towards art that allows our imaginations to do a bit more of the work.

Meave Hamill, Senior Private Sales Advisor, London

Suki Seokyeong Kang
Mat 120 × 165 #22-31, 2021-2022
Kukje Gallery
Suki Seokyeong Kang
Mat 120 x 165 #22-53, 2021-2022
Tina Kim Gallery

Seoul Art Week was a packed affair earlier this month, with several standout events and openings. Paradise Art Night started the week, a few days before Frieze Seoul and KIAF got underway. The event was held in Paradise City in Incheon, opening the exhibition “Love in Paradise: Banksy and Keith Haring.” The exhibition includes Banksy’s famous artwork Love is in the bin (2018), shown for the first time in Korea. Multiple famous artists were in attendance, and the audience was surprised by an unexpected performance by Yoshiki from the legendary band X Japan.

The following day, everyone wanted to be at the Leeum Museum of Art for the opening of Suki Seokyeong Kang’s solo exhibition “Willow Drum Oriole,” sponsored by Bottega Veneta. Her works have been featured in many biennials, including in Gwangju, Shanghai, and Venice. This is the artist’s largest exhibition to date, showcasing a total of 130 works. BTS’s Kim Nam-joon, also known as RM, was spotted at the opening event. The opening reception party was held outside the museum, drawing gallerists, collectors, and art lovers who were in town for Frieze and KIAF.

Later in the week, Prada Mode opened the 10th edition of its traveling social club at KOTE. The event was curated by Lee Sook-Kyung, showcasing installations by three well-known Korean film directors (Kim Jee-Woon, Yeon Sang-ho, and Jeong Dahee). The three directors showcased their visions of culinary culture, absence, and mortality in three different buildings.

Hilary Joo, Sales Representative, Seoul

An artist discovery at The Armory Show

Poppy Jones
Winter/Heat, 2022
Galerie Mighela Shama

Art fairs are often bemoaned for their flashy gimmicks, but The Armory Show managed to thread the needle this year with largely thoughtful presentations. With more than 225 galleries taking part in the fair, the majority of booths allowed collectors to browse top works at a relaxed pace—much like the current market. My favorite discovery was found in Overduin and Co.’s presentation of paintings by Poppy Jones.

Poppy Jones (B. 1985, London) has quickly gained acclaim for her highly tactile artworks that waver between painting, printmaking, and photography. The works are all intimate still lifes of everyday objects like a shadowed bouquet of flowers in deep burgundy, an indigo puffer coat, a standalone lemon, and a wrinkled silk shirt. Some of the objects are shown closely cropped, abstracting the familiar forms. Others are shown in a more traditional still-life format, placed on a flat surface, similar to how one might encounter objects to draw or paint in a studio art course.

Poppy Jones
Pale Light, 2022
Galerie Mighela Shama
Poppy Jones
Deep Bloom, 2022
Galerie Mighela Shama

Jones creates these works through a unique process. She begins by taking a photograph, then transmutes the image onto silk, suede, or cotton through oil lithographic printing, and then carefully applies watercolor painting. The works are quite small and all framed in thin, soldered aluminum.

Jones’s use of material reminds me of the works of fellow ultra-contemporary U.K.-based artist Issy Wood, who is known to work on silk. There are also traces of the painter Alexis Ralavaio, who also creates tightly cropped still lifes. Jones is clearly well versed in the long art historical tradition of still-life painting, and her market seems built to last. All works were on hold within the first 30 minutes of the fair’s opening.

Caroline Perkins, Private Sales Advisor, New York

What we're anticipating

Frieze Sculpture returns

Beverly Pepper, Curvae in Curvae (2013–18) at Frieze Sculpture, 2022. Courtesy of the artist, Frieze, and Marlborough.

Frieze London’s 20th-anniversary edition is arriving next month, and with it comes a new vision for the highly anticipated Frieze Sculpture, which begins on September 20th. Frieze Sculpture is always a breath of fresh air before the frenzy of the fair begins, a zen walk through Regent’s Park filled with art that challenges the confinement of the art fair booth. This year’s edition is being curated for the first time by Fatoş Üstek (former director of the Liverpool Biennial). I am excited to discover large-scale sculptures by Ghada Amer, Louise Nevelson, Hank Willis Thomas, Yinka Shonibare, and Thomas Saraceno, among many others.

Sculpture has sometimes been a more niche medium in art. Despite presenting some technical and logistical challenges for collectors—especially with the rising costs of shipping—the visual impact of placing sculptures both in public and private spaces is unique.

Daniela Bianco-Duppen, Senior Private Sales Advisor, London

Artsy Editorial