Focus on France, Korea at international art fair

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Focus on France, Korea at international art fair

There was a time in the local art scene when art fairs were a social event, with paintings for wealthy collectors. If you were a serious contemporary artist in Korea, you jeopardized your career by putting your name on the list for art fairs.
Times have changed. Not only has the perception of art fairs changed in Korea in the past decade, but the categories of art presented by participating galleries have been greatly expanded. In fact, they’ve got to the point where some critics say biennales simply recycle art fairs.
The Korea International Art Fair, which opens today at COEX Mall, is proof of the expanding market and improving reputation of art fairs.
Sales at the Korean Fair have been consistently high for the past five years. It has attracted a considerable number of European galleries as participants, especially from France and Germany. Collectors from China have also been steady clients of contemporary Korean art, which the fair exhibits extensively.
Indeed the fair, which began in 2002, is one of the fastest-growing art events in Northeast Asia, possibly because its prices have become more democratic. Up to 150 galleries from 13 nations are participating this year.
A special exhibit, “Paris-Seoul,” celebrates the 120th year of diplomatic relationships between Korea and France. Commissioners from France and Korea ― Jean-Louis Poitevin and Airyung Kim ― selected the artworks from the two nations.
Indeed, France has been a place of artistic refuge for many Korean artists. The Paris Biennale played a critical role in developing Korea’s post-war contemporary art scene in the 1960s and ‘70s, propelling artists like Kim Tschang-Yeul (he participated in the Paris Biennale in 1961) to stardom.
The artists on display at the fair ranges from big names such as Chagall and Yayoi Kusama to rising artists with more experimental works in smaller galleries.
Mediums vary, so do the styles and tastes. It’s safe to assume, though, that the selected works on display are the kind of art that “sells” in the market today. They reflect the trends and fashion in the glamorous world of art and what’s “in” and what’s “out.”
Sounds like a department store? It could be more complex than that. It’s a spot where shopping for art can become the art of shopping.


by Park Soo-mee

The Korea International Art Fair runs today til Tuesday at Pacific Hall, COEX. For information, call (02) 733-3706.

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