Inaugural Seoul Frieze Opens With Million Greenback Gross sales, A New Technology Of Collectors And A Cameo From A Okay-Pop Legend

At 2pm in Seoul, Frieze opened the doorways to its inaugural version within the South Korean capital. In some ways, it seemed like an ordinary artwork honest – clean branding, Ruinart corks, acquainted meals. However there have been some notable variations. First, whereas many nations have moved to a brand new part of the traditional pandemic, most individuals have been masked. Second, in contrast to the rowdier crowds that throng US and European gala’s, VIPs shaped an orderly line to enter.

inside the CoEx conference heartwhich can also be house to the long-running Kiaf and the brand new media-focused Kiaf+, the aisles had been abuzz, particularly when frontman BTS RM made his means by the honest. Whereas discuss of a looming recession has left some much less optimistic concerning the state of the market, Asia’s younger art-buying crowd — identified regionally as Technology MZ, a portmanteau of Millennials and Technology Z – appears as hungry as ever for artwork.

The group was predominantly Korean, however a couple of worldwide collectors had been additionally within the combine, from Bangladeshi collector Rajeeb Samdani, inside designer Yassmin Ghandehari and Libyan princess Alia Al-Senussi. Curators Hans Ulrich Obrist, Daniel Birnbaum and Naomi Beckwith had been seen touring with teams of institutional patrons.

Early gross sales from over 110 collaborating galleries coated the vary: Hauser and Wirth offered a $2.8 million George Condominium to a non-public museum in South Korea, Native seller Jason Haam offered an Urs Fischer portray to a Seoul collector for $1.2 million, and Dastan Gallery offered works by Ali Beheshti for between €1,200 and €3,500.

Actor Jung Woo-sung is seen on the Frieze Seoul VIP Preview on September 2, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea. (Picture by Justin Shin/GA/ARTNews by way of Getty Photographs)

From Growth to Growth

Seoul skilled a creative increase within the early 2000s, however was hampered by the monetary crash of 2008. Now, town is having its second once more. As his worldwide celeb grew, a number of worldwide galleries—Tempo, Gladstone, Perrotin and others—opened or expanded outposts within the metropolis. Christie’s and Phillips additionally held exhibitions in Seoul this week.

On this context, the central query of the honest was whether or not Seoul would change into a – if not the – fundamental heart for the artwork enterprise in Asia after strict isolation restrictionsthe specter of property accident in mainland China and a crackdown on democratic freedoms in Hong Kong prevented rival cities.

The joy was palpable. “For us to host an artwork honest like this, for an occasion like this to have a Picasso and galleries like Acquavella and Gagosian, it is a pleasure of the nation,” Haam advised Artnet Information. “Everyone’s excited, all people’s able to spend.” Though some have identified that it’s reductive to pit Hong Kong and Seoul in opposition to one another, as there’s loads of room for extra hubs in Asia, Haam admitted that positioning Seoul as the middle for the artwork market after Hong Kaong was “very persuasive . “

“It is vital that this nation is free: free to commerce, free to talk and free to indicate issues,” he mentioned. “This can be a very democratic nation, we have seen our president impeached, it isn’t very felony. There are some issues and points that we now have to deal with: it isn’t fairly, it isn’t New York or Paris, and the alphabet is totally different, so it is troublesome to navigate, and it has been a transport nightmare for everybody, and there is a lack {of professional} providers. like PR firms for native galleries, nevertheless it’s a free port for artwork and it is an excellent place to do enterprise.”

By and enormous, the galleries appeared pleased with the brand new connections they had been making – although it was amid grumbling about all the pieces from transport prices and visa purple tape to obstacles reminiscent of misplaced suitcases and difficulties getting a taxi. There was additionally detrimental sentiment from home sellers concerning the heavy give attention to fair-trade from its longer-running native counterparts, in addition to accusations of unimaginative offers or inventory dumping from massive blue-chip galleries . General, nevertheless, the consensus was that Frieze was having a optimistic influence on the native ecosystem.

Truthful director Pat Lee was delighted with the turnout of collectors from throughout the area, together with Japan, Singapore and Thailand. “I am very pleased that Asian collectors got here, as a result of this isn’t only a Korean honest, it is an Asian honest,” Lee mentioned. “I am thrilled with how town has actually embraced this occasion. Not solely artists and galleries, but in addition museums, cultural areas, trend homes, eating places.”

A visitor walks previous the Tempo Gallery sales space on the Frieze Seoul VIP preview on September 2, 2022. (Picture by Justin Shin/GA/ARTNews by way of Getty Photographs)

Within the Corridors

Okay-pop sensation RM’s roll across the honest included a cease on the sales space of Austrian seller Thaddaeus Ropac, who praised his analysis and information of the gallery’s program. “Okay-Pop stars are very influential and I feel they’ve made a distinction in why younger collectors are so drawn to artwork,” mentioned Ropac.

Ropac offered a number of works at a variety of costs, together with a Tom Sachs for $300,000 and a Lee Bul work for $190,000. The gallery additionally offered the majority of its Anselm Kiefer exhibit at its Seoul area for costs of as much as $1.1 million (Kiefer, who will even have an exhibit on the upcoming CNCity Museum opening in Seoul subsequent yr , forbade his sellers from displaying his works). at gala’s). A lot of the works went to Asian collectors, based on the gallery.

Worldwide galleries with out full-time outposts within the metropolis emphasised a need to additionally promote in Asia and had been most concerned about introducing their program to a brand new viewers. “We need to prioritize folks within the area and never simply promote again to the US and Europe,” Swiss seller Gregor Staiger advised Artnet Information.

For locals like Yoonsung Stephanie Cho of Hakgojae Gallery, featured within the Masters part, the honest was additionally about networking with friends. “One in every of our fundamental targets is to satisfy different gallerists from around the globe,” she mentioned. Certainly, as Seoul turns into a extra fascinating place for artists to indicate, native galleries can make the most of this to work with established artists; Haam, who based his gallery lower than 5 years in the past, launched Urs Fischer to the honest.

With such a give attention to constructing relationships, the tempo of gross sales was slower than at different Frieze occasions. “For galleries, I feel it is going to be much less about fast gross sales this week and extra about contacts, and that can then drive future gross sales,” Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of latest artwork in Asia, advised Artnet Information.

“With Korean collectors it is a sluggish burn, however in the long term they’re loyal,” famous honest director Lee.

Skarstedt’s Martin Klosterfelde, who was displaying with 17 different galleries in a tightly-focused Frieze Masters part, offered a couple of works to Korean collectors, however confirmed that endurance was the secret. “In Basel, all the pieces occurs on the primary day, however I feel it is extra like Hong Kong, the place it is fairly crowded daily,” he mentioned.

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

Guests to Frieze Seoul, 2022. Picture by Lets Studio. Courtesy of Lets Studio and Frieze.

Nonetheless, the galleries launched loads of prime sellers by the tip of the day. All 15 Hauser and Wirth gross sales (together with a $1.8 million Mark Bradford) went to collections in Korea and all through the area. Sprüth Magers listed an house price $1.6 million to a Chinese language collector. David Zwirner offered a Donald Judd sculpture for $850,000, whereas Tempo offered an Adam Pendleton display print for $475,000 to a museum in Asia. Almine Rech offered a piece by Ha Chong Hyun for $300,000 to $400,000 and Lehmann Maupin offered a brand new work by Nari Ward for $275,000.

There was a powerful artist presence on the honest, from Katherine Bernhardt holding courtroom at David Zwirner to Singaporean artist Fyerool Darma at Yeo Workshop. Singapore has positioned itself as a contender for the crown of Asia’s premier artwork market heart — Sotheby’s held its first dwell public sale within the city-state in 15 years, which fetched $18 million in late August.

Gallerist and artwork guide Audrey Yeo, who was one of many mission administrators of the Singapore Sea Focus honest, mentioned there was nonetheless a strategy to go for the city-state. “One in every of my learnings through the years is that you may develop all of the {hardware} you need, however crucial factor is the software program,” she mentioned. “In Singapore, we now have such an excellent infrastructure, however I feel what we have to give attention to now could be our content material and artists if we hope to meet up with what’s taking place in Seoul.”

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