Gallery-hopping in 2 stepsA stroll through Seoul’s bucolic art gallery neighborhoods is an ideal way to enjoy springtime. Put aside thoughts of how much the pieces cost and just admire the fine works. The charming cafes and restaurants sprinkled through these art districts are worth a visit as well.
Two of the foremost art neighborhoods are Insa-dong/Gangbuk in central Seoul and Cheongdam-dong in Gangnam, south of the Han River.
Traditional and unconventional in Insa-dong/Gangbuk:
Art galleries have clustered here since the 1970s, and today there are more than 60 in the neighborhood.
Insa Art Center, Nah Gallery and Moin Gallery are three of the prime spots in Insa-dong, and a short walk north to Samcheong-dong brings you to ArtSonje Center, the Mongolian Museum and other galleries. Farther north in Pyeongchang-dong, Gana Art Center, the largest gallery in the area, sits amid trees and sublime scenery.
The works displayed in this area’s galleries cover a broad artistic terrain, including ceramics, oil paintings, watercolors and Oriental paintings. A single oil painting by a new artist can cost 500,000 to 600,000 won ($400-$480).
The parking around here is poor, though, and visitors are advised to walk or use public transportation. To get to Insa-dong, take subway line No. 3 to Anguk Station. Most of the galleries here are closed Mondays.
The Contemporary flair of Gangnam:
Bunched in the alleys and byways of Cheongdam-dong are about 40 art galleries, which began popping up in the 1980s when a major road in the area was built.
You can find many examples of minimalist or monochrome art, as well as other kinds of abstract art. Most galleries display works by famous artists, and it is not easy to find experimental pieces by young artists. “In Gangnam, art lovers tend to seek works by artists who are widely recognized,” says Park Myeong-suk, president of Urban Art gallery. Thirty-by-thirty centimeter (12-by-12 inch) oil paintings start at 1.5 million won.
Art galleries in this area are widely known for their individuality. Cais Gallery features postmodern artists, while Gallery Seohwa deals mainly with abstract art. Juliana Gallery holds many exhibits by foreign artists such as Sol Lewitt or James Brown. The annual “Cheongdam Art Festival” in June and July is worth checking out.
Parking is better than in Gangbuk, but it is a long way from any subway stations. The closest ― Apgujeong Station on line No. 3 and Gangnam-gu Office Station on line No. 7 ― are a good 20-minute walk away. Most art galleries here are closed Sundays.
by Han Ae-ran