Local galleries put their best foot forward on sidelines of Frieze and Kiaf

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Local galleries put their best foot forward on sidelines of Frieze and Kiaf

"Wer jetzt kein haus hat..." (2016-22) by Anselm Kiefer [THADDAEUS ROPAC]

"Wer jetzt kein haus hat..." (2016-22) by Anselm Kiefer [THADDAEUS ROPAC]

Ahead of Korea’s biggest week for art this year, major international art galleries, especially those that significantly take up Hannam-dong of Yongsan District, central Seoul, are showcasing a number of works for the public to enjoy on the sidelines.
Lehmann Maupin, Pace and Thaddaeus Ropac, which have gallery branches scattered all over the world, will open new exhibitions just before art fairs Frieze Seoul and Kiaf Seoul simultaneously will open at COEX in southern Seoul on Sept. 2.
The galleries are displaying an exciting array of works from renowned artists McArthur Binion, Adrian Ghenie, teamLab and Anselm Kiefer starting this week.
"DNA:Study/(Visual:Ear)" (2022) by McArthur Binion [LEHMANN MAUPIN]

"DNA:Study/(Visual:Ear)" (2022) by McArthur Binion [LEHMANN MAUPIN]

McArthur Binion

The Chicago-based, 75-year-old artist is holding his second solo exhibition titled “DNA:Study/(Visual:Ear)” in Seoul at Lehmann Maupin from Thursday. In this exhibition are the latest pieces from his “DNA” and “Visual Ear” series.
Binion’s works are primarily minimalist and abstract, depicting colorful grids on paper which he colors with oil sticks. When looked at up close, viewers will realize the paper is actually scraps of the artist’s personal documents, like his passport, birth certificate and address book, as well as a music score by American composer Henry Threadgill.
Music plays a meaningful role in Binion’s paintings, as “that’s where my artistic work began, from 1971 to last year — I’ve been working to clarify my position,” Binion said during a press preview at the gallery on Tuesday.
His paintings are composed of repetition and seriality and appear to have a certain “rhythm” which ultimately reflects the labor-intensive working process and personal identity of the artist.
“When I work in my studio, there’s no sound. So for me, repetition represents daily life and my regular spirituality,” Binion said. “Also, it’s kind of like music as it represents the rhythm section [...] I also think that if you are able to do the most complicated thinking, in the end, it’s the [simplest] work.”
“DNA:Study/(Visual:Ear)” continues until Oct. 22. Lehmann Maupin is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
"Self-Portrait with Paintbrush" (2022) by Adrian Ghenie [PACE GALLERY]

"Self-Portrait with Paintbrush" (2022) by Adrian Ghenie [PACE GALLERY]

Adrian Ghenie
The Berlin-based Romanian painter, 45, who dynamically explores visual, political and social histories through his pieces, is holding his first-ever solo show in Asia at Pace Gallery beginning Friday.
Spanning across two floors of the gallery’s building, Ghenie presents 28 of his charcoal drawings that illustrate distorted, blurry images of unidentifiable figures. They appear like grotesque versions of people frequently seen in society today, such as someone who is addicted to their phone, someone watching television while seemingly unable to let go of the remote control and someone wearing an N95 mask.
Until this Seoul exhibition, the artist focused on oil paintings. This marks his first time experimenting with charcoal on paper.
“I didn’t draw much before this exhibition, because I was intimidated that somehow, drawing was a medium based on precision,” Ghenie said during the preview event at Pace on Tuesday. “I discovered that this paper, especially if I use charcoal on it, even if I make a mistake on it, I can erase it [...] This liberated me from this anxiety of not being precise, so suddenly I had this freedom of making as many mistakes as I want.
“So in a way I realized it’s a technique based on mistakes rather than precision, which coincides very much with the way I painted. And suddenly, I felt I had the freedom to draw [...] To be honest, this exhibition is more like finally finding freedom in drawing.”
Ghenie’s exhibition runs through Oct. 22. Pace Gallery is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“Continuous Life and Death at the Now of Eternity II” (2019) by teamLab [PACE GALLERY]

“Continuous Life and Death at the Now of Eternity II” (2019) by teamLab [PACE GALLERY]


On the first floor of the same Pace building are the digital works of the interdisciplinary art collective teamLab. Comprised of specialists including artists, programmers, architects, engineers and animators, the group is well-known for its multisensory, immersive pieces.
Its exhibition “Massless Suns,” starting Friday, unveils a new interactive digital installation piece, monitor-based digital works and an outdoor interactive set of rock-shaped glowing sculptures that are better seen at night.
The aforementioned interactive digital installation, perhaps the highlight of this exhibit, “Massless Suns and Dark Spheres” (2022) is composed of “glowing spheres of light and darkness.” Set inside a tiny dark room, the piece itself is so fragile that only two people are allowed inside at a time.
At a glance, the lights emit a perfectly round glow, but they are not actually encapsulated by any bulb or casing. Rather, when visitors approach each light they react by getting brighter or temporarily dimming. As the “spheres” of lights have ambiguous boundaries and cannot be physically sensed, the entire piece attempts to question the concept of perception.
“Continuous Life and Death at the Now of Eternity II” (2019), a 12-channel video of flowers blooming and then petals fluttering away, is a representation of the repeated process of life and death unfolded by a computer-generated time sequence that renders the artwork in real-time.
“Massless Suns” ends on Oct. 29.
"Wer jetzt kein haus hat, baut sich keines mehr" (2022) by Anselm Kiefer [THADDAEUS ROPAC]

"Wer jetzt kein haus hat, baut sich keines mehr" (2022) by Anselm Kiefer [THADDAEUS ROPAC]

Anselm Kiefer

“Wer jetzt kein Haus hat (Whoever has no house now),” a show of 77-year-old German artist Anselm Kiefer’s new works, starts Thursday at Thaddaeus Ropac.
With 13 new paintings that were specially made to fit the gallery’s Seoul branch and one installation piece of an unfinished mud-brick house, these new artworks are dedicated to the season of autumn.
The paintings have a gloomy atmosphere owing to the dark, misty colors, but are also highlighted with gold textures and layering of paint that adds a rich sense of depth and density.  
The inspiration comes from poems, which are regarded as “buoys” to the artist as “I swim to them, from one to the other. In between, without them, I am lost,” he was quoted as saying by the gallery.
The exhibit’s title was inspired by the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) and his 1902 poem “Herbsttag,” or “Autumn Day.” 
Kiefer's paintings were also inspired by Hyde Park in London, as the artist marveled at how the “explosion of colors” on an autumn day were “overwhelming” and “of such intensity that I fetched the camera from the hotel and went to work.”
The mud-brick installation, which can be perceived as both half-built or half-destroyed, is a reminder of Kiefer’s post-war Germany days as a child.
“Destruction and decay has always been part of his work,” Thaddaeus Ropac, the founder of the gallery said during the preview on Wednesday. “The important thing of his work is also the materials. Metal is a recurring element in his works because it is able to carry all the weight of human history.”
With the added touch of gold in the paintings, Kiefer’s paintings are like yin and yang, as they encompass both decay and renewal simultaneously.
“Wer jetzt kein Haus hat” continues through Oct. 22. Thaddaeus Ropac is open every day except for Sundays and Mondays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

BY SHIN MIN-HEE [shin.minhee@joongang.co.kr]
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