Destination: Korea International Art Fair (ends today)

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Updated slightly to include link to the KIAF website and a fellow bloggers report on the event.

The Costume of Painter – Phantom of Museum Au Bouguereau little thief – Oil and Lenticular on canvas by Bae Joon Sung.

Updated slightly to include link to the KIAF website and a fellow bloggers report on the event.

The Costume of Painter – Phantom of Museum Au Bouguereau little thief – Oil and Lenticular on canvas by Bae Joon Sung.

Seeing art in Korea is about as difficult as finding kimchi at a Korean restaurant. Most buildings sponsor some abstract sculptures to decorate their buildings, while many other areas offer museum after museum. So why go to an art fair – to be surrounded by snooty, pretentious art whose price tags run into eight figures (Korean won, of course)? No – as a matter of course, most of the art seen here was neither snooty or pretentious art, but the prices on said art were still astronomical. The typical fair-goer is likely a person that appreciates art, and wants to see a wide variety of it without feeling any obligation to buy it.


Untitled, acrylic on linen, George Tjungurrayi, 2004

And what a wide variety there is. While you won’t see any names you’re familiar with (unless you’re into the Korean art scene), the styles you learned in your introductory college art class will come back to you: Impressionism, Minimalism, Abstract, Video Art, and Postmodernism all made appearences.


Smaller pieces: a series called “Reiterinnen”, tempera on wood, since 2005. Larger piece: Naoko, Sarah (II), oil on canvas, 2009. Both pieces from the Galerie Supper in Germany

Start by finding the 3rd floor convention center a few floors up from the COEX mall. Once there, pay a surprisingly high fee of 15,000 won to get in, pick up a program in English and begin your tour. The KIAF takes up two very large conference areas, so expect to spend at least a few hours making your way around.

The art is organized by galleries, and while most is for sale, let’s just say it’s out of the average teacher’s price range. Taking pictures was allowed – for the price of most of the art and the admission I’d better be able to take pictures!


Untitled #3 (soft) from Arvo Part’s Alina, Music for the Eyes series, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, by Robert Owen, 2008


Overstepping A/P, digital print, by Julie Rapp, 2001.

That seems like a plastic surgery that would be popular here in Korea.


Soldered galvinzed wire, by Neil Taylor of Niagara Galleries, 2008

Various wire sculptures – between the tables and walls, there were more than enough perspectives to see from.


Daybreak, Kim Seong Ho, oil on canvas, 2009.

An decidedly Impressionistic look at the big city.


The Blue Worldleach, Lee Szuhui, acryiic on canvas, 2008, part of the Artist Support Program / Artist Portfolio Presentation.

According to her artist statement, this piece “draws heavily on traditional patterns well known to Asians in an attempt to trigger shared memories among the viewers.”


Two pieces by Youngdon Choi; on top, ‘A day’, digital C-print, 2008; on bottom, ‘A century’, digital C-print, 2008.

I especially enjoy abstract pieces that I can understand 🙂


No title given, Lin Tian Lu, of the Pyo Gallery in Korea.

Audrey Hepburn vs Gregory Peck, Kim Dong Yu, oil on canvas, 2009.

It’s the same smaller picture over and over with different tints.


Title not given, Cheon Seong Gil, 2009

If you’ve seen any of the Coke polar bear commercials, this should make more sense.


Visual Vortex – Merlau Ponty III Yellow, by HC Berg, acrylics, 2007

One piece that made me go ‘Woah’ – try reading the English message against the curved mirror.

Several dozen international galleries were present, and a special exhibition of modern Indian art was also worth a view, but the majority of art is Korean.


Both pieces by Rohini Devasher; on left, Archetype, digital print with drawing on archical paper, 2007; on right, Chimera, 2008.

One piece from the exhibition of Indian art. Called ‘Failed Plot’, the exhibition focuses on “the idea of the incomplete picture. No matter how we frame the image, is it ever complete?” Think about the unfinished or incomplete things in your life and picture the exhibit through that lens.

E-Mc2 Part 2, LN Tallur, oil, 2008.

The art you’ve seen is a tiny percentage of both halls – with 168 galleries each featuring at least several pieces, it can take the better part of a day to see it all. I’ll be making my plans to see next year’s fair around the same time of the year.

The KIAF ends September 22. 15,000 won for adults. Go to the COEX Mall (Samseong station, line 2, exit 6), then take the escalators up and follow the flags to the 3rd floor. Open from 11am to 5pm on Tuesday.
Creative Commons License © Chris Backe – 2009


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