Frieze Seoul 2023: everything you need to know

Frieze Seoul 2023 focuses on Asian galleries as it opens its doors for the second time in COEX, Gangnam

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(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist and Project Native Informant, London. Right, Paul McCarthy Mimi, 2006-2008 Pink silicone rubber, steel © Paul McCarthy Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth Photo: Stefan Altenburger Photography Zürich)

Following last year’s success of its inaugural edition in the burgeoning new art capital (and ahead of Frieze’s 20th anniversary in London in October), Frieze Seoul 2023 launches today (6 September 2023) amid great enthusiasm, in COEX, an exhibition hall in Gangnam, southern Seoul. The fair’s focus this year is heavy on Asian and Asia-based galleries – possibly seen as an effort to solidify its presence in Asia.

Frieze Seoul 2023: what to see

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Alex Katz Saturday, 2002. Oil on linen

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist and Gray)

‘The percentage of (participating) galleries that operate spaces in Asia is 57 per cent this year,’ said Patrick Lee, director of Frieze Seoul. The participation of Asia-based galleries has increased by around 10 per cent from last year’s 48 per cent. Over 120 galleries (including 32 new to the fair) from more than 30 countries are participating this year.

“This year’s Frieze Seoul includes a strong core of galleries from throughout the Asian region, with a particular emphasis on those with spaces in Korea, from established names like Gallery Hyundai, Kukje, and Gana through to the city’s newest and most promising young dealers,’ said Lee.

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Rose Wylie, News Reader, amelioration, 2022. Oil on canvas 

(Image credit: © Rose Wylie. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner)

Galleries participating for the second time in Frieze Seoul are excited to meet the Korean audience, whom they believe are an educated public, and a different crowd from what they’ve experienced elsewhere.

‘I was surprised to see how studious Koreans were at last year’s Frieze Seoul. People asked a lot of questions and came back the next day having studied the artists carefully,’ said Marie Lusa, co-founder of Zurich-based Galerie Gregor Staiger. ‘It’s exciting to see a crowd that is serious about art. Also, it was amazing to see such a large crowd of young people at an art fair, which is unusual in Europe.’

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Nam June Paik TV Buddha, 2005. Stone Buddha, closed circuit video camera, 13" monitor, and permanent oil marker

(Image credit: © Nam June Paik Estate. Courtesy the artist and Gagosian)

Solo exhibits will be quite noticeable this year as many galleries are dedicating their booths to solo presentations of artists such as Mary Weatherford, Chou Yu-Cheng, Cindy Ji Hye Ki, Naoki Tomita, and Andrea Marie Breiling. Likewise, in Focus Asia, ten young galleries in Asia will present solo exhibits of artists such as Sinae Yoo and Woo Hannah. In Frieze Masters, the work of American conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner will be presented concurrently with its solo exhibition at Amorepacific Museum of Art.

This year, Frieze Seoul has expanded its curated programme to include a more extensive talks agenda and music in addition to film, according to Lee. ‘A major highlight will be Frieze Film, which introduces 14 artists, all based in Korea, whose video works will be activated at four non-profit spaces across the city,’ he said.

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HONG LEE Hyun-SookIn the Neighborhood of Seokgwangsa, 2021, Single channel, 15 minutes 30 seconds

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

Meanwhile, several galleries are debuting for the first time in Seoul, such as Gray Gallery from Chicago, which ambitiously brings a selection from Jim Dine, David Hockney, and Alex Katz, among others, to celebrate the gallery’s 60th anniversary. Some galleries are opening spaces coinciding with Frieze Seoul, notably White Cube which opens its first gallery space on 5 September at the Horim Museum in Gangnam, and Duerte Sequeira, which opens its second gallery space the same day near the City Hall.

The scale of celebration of the art week in Seoul has grown this year with many art and art-related events held concurrently with Frieze Seoul, not to mention the slew of side events taking place across the city.

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Pieter Jennes The sounds?, 2023. Oil and collage on canvas

(Image credit: Courtesy of the Artist, Gallery Sofie Van de Velde, Antwerp and Gallery Vacancy, Shanghai)

Alongside Frieze, is the opening of KIAF, Korea’s leading international art fair, from 6 to 10 September, bringing together 210 galleries this year – a significant increase from 164 last year. Thirty galleries are joining the fair for the first time and more than 130 galleries are from Korea. 

Seoul city is also joining in the art festival, dubbing the period between 1 and 10 September ‘Seoul Art Week’, providing information about galleries, exhibitions and festivities taking place during Frieze Seoul and KIAF as well as about many other art-related events during this period. The city also celebrates the 4th Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, which opened 1 September and runs until the end of October.

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Yuko Mohri “I/O,”2011Roll paper, Bell-lyra, Duster, Motor, LED Light, Light Bulb, Wooden Frame, Toilet tissue, Aquarium,Censor, etc 

(Image credit: Courtesy of the Artist and Yutaka Kikutake)

Late-night openings and parties will invigorate three of Seoul’s most important gallery districts, including Cheongdam (6 September), and Samcheong (7 September). Participating galleries and institutions for Hannam Night include Gallery Baton, Cylinder, Esther Schipper, Leeum Museum of Art, Lehmann Maupin, P21, Pace, Thaddaeus Ropac, Sprüth Magers, VSF and Whistle. Cheongdam Night will highlight spaces including Atelier Hermès, G Gallery, Gladstone, One and J, Perrotin, Songeun, and White Cube. Samcheong Night will include A-Lounge, Arario Galler, Art Sonje Center, Hakgojae, Gallery Hyundai, Kukje and PKM.

Interesting side events are also taking place such as the LG OLED Frieze Night party taking place 6 September at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) featuring popular Korean rapper Beenzino. LG is the official headline partner of Frieze Seoul. On the same day, Korean conceptual artist Sung Neung Kyung will hold a newspaper reading performance with 100 foreigners as part of Seoul Art Night hosted by Gallery Hyundai at Lightroom Seoul.

Also taking place at DDP from 1 – 11 September is Swiss artist Dan Acher’s ‘Borealis’ exhibition which projects artificial auroras that light up the night sky from 8 to 11pm. Between 4 and 8 September, art dealer Lawrence Van Hagen presents ‘What’s Up / Seoul ‘12 Masters’ in celebrity Korean designer Teo Yang’s early 20th-century hanok (traditional Korean house), exhibiting works by modern masters such as Andy Warhol, Lee Ufan, Alexander Calder, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Frieze Seoul takes place from 6 - 9 September at COEX, Gangnam