Frieze Debuts in Seoul, With Big-Name Galleries and a Hometown Spectacle

The New York Times

High-end art fairs have been giving themselves global brand extensions for years, and the latest one, Frieze Seoul, is among the more ambitious.


Frieze — which staged its first fair in London and then proliferated to New York and Los Angeles — takes on a whole new continent with the Seoul fair, running Saturday through Monday at the Coexand featuring more than 110 galleries.


“Frieze has been looking at Asia for a while,” said Patrick Lee, the fair’s director.


It can be seen as Frieze’s answer to Art Basel Hong Kong — and not to be outdone as far as expansions go, Art Basel is extending its reach to Paris, with a new fair debuting in October. (Launched in Basel, Switzerland, in 1970, the fair expanded to Miami Beach in 2002 and then to Hong Kong in 2013.)


Mr. Lee, formerly the executive director of Gallery Hyundai and once a partner in One and J. Gallery, both in Seoul, said that collectors will be impressed with the local offerings.


“When people come here, they are surprised at the level of development of the art infrastructure — museums, galleries, nonprofit spaces,” he said. “The city is really going to shine.” Some 19 galleries either based in Seoul or with a branch there will be participating in Frieze.


The size of the fair — while smaller than some prestige fairs, which can include more than 200 galleries — is a plus, Mr. Lee said.


“It allows for real exploration,” he said. “You can go through, take your time and meet people.”




Bortolami gallery is also renting space at the Songwon Art Center for a separate show, “The Cumulative Effect,” a collaboration with Kreps and Tina Kim Gallery that will run concurrently with Frieze, but Ms. Bortolami said she was trying to be prudent about which fairs to do.


“We shouldn’t do too many of them, for the environment,” she said of the carbon footprint involved in sending people and artworks around the world. “But you have to do enough so that people don’t forget about you.”




—Ted Loos

August 30, 2022
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