Must-See Art Guide: Seoul

This week's guide includes Nam June Paik, Jean-Michel Othoniel, and Lim Oksang.

Nam June Paik, John Cage (1990). Courtesy of Gallery Hyundai.
Nam June Paik, John Cage (1990). Courtesy of Gallery Hyundai.
Lim Oksang, Way Home (1984). Courtesy of Gana Art Gallery.

Lim Oksang, Way Home (1984). Courtesy of Gana Art Gallery.

Art Basel Hong Kong, the Shanghai Art Fair, the Beijing International Art Biennale—the list of art events in Asia is getting longer and longer each year, and the competition to be the top cultural destination in the region is getting fierce. Along with Beijing, Singapore, and Tokyo, Seoul can now be considered one of the top arty Asian cities you need to know. With the opening of the Seoul Museum in 2014 and the rise of Korean Art in the international auction market, it’s high time to take a closer look at the largest metropolis in South Korea.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Nam June Paik’s death, and Gallery Hyundai is marking the occasion with the seventh solo exhibition of the artist held at the gallery. On display are a variety of works created in 1980s and 1990s, the most significant of which is Paik’s 1990 shamanic performance dedicated to Joseph Beuys. Then, head over to the Jongno-gu district where you can find most of Seoul’s galleries. Be sure to stop by Arario Gallery to see its show focusing on the work of Kang Wook Lee. The abstract painter poses the open-ended question of “what a painting is” through a new series that explores micro and macroscopic worlds.

Next, swing by Gangnam-gu, a district located by the South of the Han River. Gallery 2 hosts the imaginative work of Juri Lee, where the landscapes depicted in his paintings mingle reality and unreality. Nearby at Gallery Baton, you can find sculptures and installations by Max Frisinger on display. The German artist treats ordinary objects as a medium, taking them as a starting point to addresses questions about the inherent value of objects.

Fresh off his recent installation at the Palace of Versailles, Jean-Michel Othoniel unpacks his latest works at Kukje Gallery. Obsessed with the hidden meaning of flowers, the French artist explores his interest in metaphoric imagery and the beauty found in nature. He chose the lotus for its symbolic embodiment of perfection, truth, and serenity as a focal point for his new series of sculptures and paintings. Rather see some Pop Art? Head to Hakgojae Gallery: their exhibition of Mari Kim highlights the Korean Pop artist’s unique vision world with over 150 works that include paintings, sculpture, neons, and videos. His “Eyedoll” character—a child with big eyes—provides the audience with a unique perspective through which to view the world. This time those big eyes are focused on “SETI: the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence,” the name of Kim’s current exhibition. Perhaps we’ll learn that “the truth is out there” after all?

2016 is giving us one extra day this year, so make the most of it and spend it in Seoul.

Kang Wook Lee, The Gesture. Courtesy of Arario Gallery.

Kang Wook Lee, The Gesture. Courtesy of Arario Gallery.

Exhibition: “Kang Wook Lee: Paradoxical Space: The New World
When:
January 7–March 6, 2016
Where:
Arario Gallery, 84 Bukchon-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Jiyoung Yoon, Dear Peer Artists (2004). Courtesy of Doosan Gallery.

Jiyoung Yoon, Dear Peer Artists (2004). Courtesy of Doosan Gallery.

Exhibition: Discrete Use of Reality
When:
January 13–February 27, 2016
Where:
Doosan Gallery, 15 Jongno 33-gil, Seoul, South Korea

Mari Kim, Future Girl (2015). Courtesy of Hakgojae Gallery.

Mari Kim, Future Girl (2015). Courtesy of Hakgojae Gallery.

Exhibition: Mari Kim Solo Exhibition SETI-Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence
When:
January 13–February 24, 2016
Where:
Hakgojae Gallery, 50 Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Image 4: Hyunjin Bek, Matter, Before Being Perceived as a Tool by a Certain Animal (2015). Courtesy of PKM Gallery.

Hyunjin Bek, Matter, Before Being Perceived as a Tool by a Certain Animal (2015). Courtesy of PKM Gallery.

Exhibition: Hyunjin Beck: Field, Bird, Dog and Talent
When: January 27–February 27, 2016
Where:
PKM Gallery, 40 Samcheong-ro 7-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Max Frinsinger, K (2015). Courtesy of Gallery Baton.

Max Frisinger, K (2015). Courtesy of Gallery Baton.

Exhibition: Max Frisinger: Goddess of Industry
When:
January 27–March 4, 2016
Where:
Gallery Baton, Apgujeong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Lee Juri. Courtesy of Gallery 2.

Lee Juri. Courtesy of Gallery 2.

Exhibition: “Lee Juri
When:
January 28–March 12, 2016
Where:
Gallery 2, 657 Sinsadong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Hwang Jai-Hyoung, Father’s place (2013). Courtesy of Gana Art Gallery.

Hwang Jai-Hyoung, Father’s place (2013). Courtesy of Gana Art Gallery.

Exhibition: Eye and Mind of Korean Contemporary Art II – Reinstatement of Realism
When:
January 28–February 28, 2016
Where:
Gana Art Gallery, 28, Pyeongchang 30-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Nam June Paik, John Cage (1990). Courtesy of Gallery Hyundai.

Nam June Paik, John Cage (1990). Courtesy of Gallery Hyundai.

Exhibition: Nam June Paik: When He was in Seoul
When: January 28–April 3, 2016
Where:
Gallery Hyundai, 14 Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Jean-Michel Othoniel, Jean-Michel Othoniel profile. Courtesy of Kukje Gallery.

Jean-Michel Othoniel, Black Lotus. Courtesy of Kukje Gallery and Keith Park.

Exhibition: Black Lotus
When:
February 2–March 27, 2016
Where:
Kukje Gallery, 54 Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Ye Seung Lee. Courtesy of Artside Gallery.

Ye Seung Lee. Courtesy of Artside Gallery.

Exhibition: Ye Seung Lee
When:
February 12–March 3, 2016
Where:
Artside Gallery, 33 Tongui-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Hyemin Lee, Pillows (2016). Courtesy of Gallery Em.

Hyemin Lee, Pillows (2016). Courtesy of Gallery Em.

Exhibition: Hyemin Lee: Metamorphosis
When:
February 18–March 13, 2016
Where:
Gallery Em, 14 Apgujeong-ro 71-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea


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