Largely affected by the economic recession, Korea is in the fifth year of an art market slump, but recent initiatives been put into place to stimulate national and international attention, focusing on the nation as breeding ground for illustrious artists. One initiative has been to focus on the 100th birthdays of artists like Kim Whanki, putting them back into the spotlight through major exhibitions and enhancing their stature in the marketplace. Young Korean artists are also finding success, attracting major corporations looking to enter the art market. Other initiatives like reclaiming Lee Ufan (who was born in Korea but is associated with Japan), putting many of his works on the market, and planning for the artist to have his own gallery in Busan City, foreshadow an escape from economic distress.
Korea-based curator, professor, and art critic Kim Sung Won describes the opportunity to promote Korean contemporary art at Art Stage Singapore as “Fresh, Challenging, Useful and Exciting!” Won curated the Korean platform around the theme “Access”—recognizing art is an engaging means to connect individuals with life experiences and the world at large. The artists included in the platform have have each created installations that challenge the norms of art-making and encourage viewers to contemplate dichotomies like consistency and ephemerality, negation and affirmation. Won explains, “As observers, we can enter their private art-worlds and empathise with the emotional and cerebral processes that have created them”.