Arario Gallery Owner Launches Seoul Museum

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The interior of the Arario Museum in Space.
Photo: Courtesy the Arario Museum in Space, via Facebook.
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The exterior of the Arario Museum in Space.
Photo: Courtesy the Arario Museum in Space, via Facebook.

The Wall Street Journal blog Korea Realtime has a great story about a new museum in Seoul backed by Arario Gallery founder, collector, and artist Kim Chang-il, who purchased a historic building last year for $14.6 million and has opened his first exhibition there. The museum, called the Arario Museum in Space, is currently showing over 200 artworks by 43 international artists in an inaugural exhibition cheekily titled “Really?,” a reference, Kim says, to the incessant reaction and question he gets from friends with whom he has shown his art acquisitions to over the years.

Personally, we think his collecting sounds fairly prescient. Included in the current exhibition, according to the post, are: Marc Quinn’s Self (2001), a cast of the artist’s head filled with his own blood, which is understandably kept in a dark refrigerated room; Indian star Subodh Gupta’s Everything is Inside (2004), depicting the top half of an Ambassador car with the artist’s signature sculptures of bronze luggage secured on top; Japanese artist Kohei Nawa’s taxidermy deer covered in clear crystal balls, PixCell-Double Deer no. 7; and French artist Pierre Huyghe’s installation of small lights projected on vapors that shift color in tandem with a composition by Claude Debussy.

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The interior of the Arario Museum in Space.
Photo: Courtesy the Arario Museum in Space, via Facebook.

The report notes that the so-called “Space” building is steeped in South Korea’s history. It overlooks Changgyeong Palace and was designed by famous architect Kim Swoo-geun, whose firm Space Group occupied the building after it was constructed in 1971.

The exhibition also contains Kim’s own “idiosyncratic flourishes” such as a jar of honey given to him by Huyghe, as well as some artworks by the artist-collector himself, such as a piece made of found objects—coffee cups, shot glasses, and the word “Really” in reverse crafted in pink neon lighting (Tracey Emin anyone?). Kim, who owns two galleries in South Korea and another in Shanghai, has plans to open three more museums on Jeju Island in South Korea, according to the story.


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