Tucked in the hills across from the old imperial palace, the Blue-chip Korean galleries populate this picturesque neighborhood, making it rather easy to engage with Korean modern masters as well as the art stars of tomorrow. Think Chelsea, but instead of warehouse spaces, the galleries are starchitect spaces.
The Kukje Gallery
Founded in 1982, Kukje is an international champion of the Dansaekhwa movement (also known as Korean monochrome), having participated in Art Basel since 1998. Kukje was also the first Korean gallery to show many of the West’s most important artists, including Alexander Calder, Louise Bourgeois, Ugo Rondinone, and Jenny Holzer. Kukje will open a major show across all 3 adjacent galleries on Sept. 1 of Lee Seung Jio’s pioneering paintings of abstract cylindrical forms from his “Nucleus” series that began in the 1960s. Vice president Bo Young Song gave us the rundown on just what makes Kukje stand out, read here!
54 Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The Tina Kim Gallery
Tina Kim Gallery is a fixture of the international scene, but in fact, Kim herself is the daughter of Kukje founder, Mrs. Lee. Kim opened in 2001 with the goal of broadening the audience for both Korea’s Dansaekhwa and emerging Asian artists. Though Kim does not have a gallery in Seoul, her presence looms large: and for this week, she is collaborating with Andrew Kreps and Bortolami on a pop-up exhibition at the Songwon Art Center (see “New to Town” on the main page).
Fun fact: Hyundai simply means “modern” in Korean. The gallery is in no way affiliated with the car giant, so don’t be fooled! Hyundai celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020, making it the longest-running commercial Korean gallery focused on contemporary art. Founder Park Myung-Ja’s gallery has made significant contributions to the development of Korean contemporary art, with milestones including their launch of the art magazine “Hwarang” in 1973, and hosting Nam June Paik’s famous “Pas de loup” performance in 1990. The gallery opens Kenny Scharf’s new exhibition, “New! Now! Good!” on Aug. 30.
14 Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Founded in 2018, Jason Haam’s gallery offers a model that’s a bit distinct from his peers: offering international representation for Western artists on the ground in Seoul. The gallery debuted with Oliver Arms, followed by the first solo exhibition of Sarah Lucas’s work in Asia. A solo exhibition by Urs Fischer opened on Aug. 25, coinciding with the artist’s Gagosian exhibition of over 500 digital sculptures in Los Angeles. For a closer look, read our Q&A with Haam himself.
Jason Haam Gallery
Jason Haam Gallery
73 Seongbuk-ro 31-gil, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, South Korea
PKM opened in 2001 and introduced Gabriel Oroco, Carsten Holler, Oldenberg and Van Brueggen, and Olafur Eliasson to the Korean audience, but at the same time, has become instrumental in supporting Korean artists here too. PKM was among the first Korean galleries invited to the Frieze Art fair in 2004, and their newest building is one of the largest in historic Samcheong, with over 4000 sq. ft. of exhibition space. Currently on view is “Mind in Matter,” by Chung Chang-Sup—one of the most prominent Dansaekhwa artists, who combined Taoist beliefs and Western minimalism to explore the possibilities of traditional Korean mulberry paper pulp spread on canvas.
PKM Gallery Map
40 Samcheong-ro 7-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Founder Hyeryung Ahn has galleries in both Seoul and Daegu. She opened her Seoul branch in 2013, where “Reborn,” by Kun-Yong Lee opens Aug. 25. The artist is known for his performative “Bodyscape” paintings. While international galleries are flocking to Seoul, Ahn has an expansion of her Daegu gallery slated to debut next summer. Last summer, she showed new works by Elizabeth Peyton inspired by the films of Wong Kar Wai.
Changseong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
One and J Gallery
Since its opening in 2005, the One and J Gallery has fostered young Korean artists. “First Echo” by Jong Oh, who creates minimalist sculptures that respond to their environment, opens Aug. 29, and will also feature in the gallery’s Frieze booth. One and J. has launched the careers of today’s Korean art stars (including Suki Seoyang Kang). The gallery also has its One and J. +1 project space for emerging artists and curators. An exhibition by tech-experimental collective teamVOID will open on Oct. 7.
One and J Gallery
31-14 Bukchon-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Since 1988, the gallery has focused on creating intersections of past and present, and also East and West, inspired by the Confucian motto translated as, “to review the old to learn the new.” Hakgojae stands out as one of the only contemporary galleries in Seoul housed in a traditional Korean building. The gallery was one of the first to exhibit work from the politically controversial Minjung social realist movement and has also fostered the careers of many Dansaekhwa painters. Their upcoming exhibition, “At First Sight” by Kang Yo-Bae, known for his large, ethereal landscapes, opens on Aug. 26.
50 Samcheong-ro, Sogyeok-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
These neighborhoods are known as the international areas, where the American military base and global embassies are headquartered. It’s also seen as the city’s more libertine neighborhood. So it’s not a surprise that many Blue-chip international galleries call Itaewon home.
Pace has had a presence here since 2018, and this week inaugurates an expanded complex, further cementing its commitment to the region. Opening Sept. 2 are Adrian Ghenie’s first solo exhibition in Asia and new works by teamLab. The new complex also includes the Osulloc Tea House (that does indeed serve teas and cocktails), offering Korean-language versions of Pace publications alongside editions, prints, and multiples by Kohei Nawa and Lee Kun-Yong.
Pace Gallery Map
267 Itaewon-ro, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Lehmann Maupin Gallery
The gallery inaugurated a major expansion of their Seoul location with a Lari Pittman show this past fall, and was the first to show Korean-born artist Do Ho Suh beginning in 2000. An exhibition by McArthur Binion opens Sept. 1, continuing the connected bodies of work “DNA:Study” and “(Visual:Ear),” of colorful, jazz-influenced grid paintings.
The Lehmann Maupin Gallery Map
213 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Various Small Fires
Opened in LA in 2012, the gallery’s name was inspired by Ed Ruscha’s 1964 artist’s book, “Various Small Fires.” Longtime friends Ed Ruscha and Billy Al Bengston inaugurated the Seoul space 3 years ago with a duo exhibition. A Diedrick Brackens show of new wall-based textiles, “together our shadows make a single belly,” opens Sept. 2, the LA-based artist’s first in Asia.
Various Small Fires
79 Dokseodang-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Established in 2017 with an emphasis on sensory experiences of art, Whistle represents emerging and mid-career Korean artists including Jiieh G Hur and Gi Young Kim. Known for his sculpture installations that often incorporate colorful squiggles and television sets, Taeyoon Kim presents “Oblique Afternoons” starting Aug. 19.
3F, 12 Hoenamu-ro 13-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Alongside their Hannam gallery, Baton prioritizes support for under-presented artists with two not-for-profit studio and exhibition spaces and their video and new media art venue, Observation Deck. In “Know Yourself,” Song Burnsoo’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, opening Aug. 23, he presents a series of new works based on the motif of the thorn, which has developed over the course of his 50-year career into a religious symbol for the ups and downs of everyday life.
116 Dokseodang-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
P21’s unique space, made up of two separate adjacent storefronts (P1 and P2), encourages artists to step outside their normal practice to create site-specific installations. Opened in 2017 by Soo Choi, the founder also serves as managing director of König Gallery’s Seoul location (see below). A solo exhibition by queer sculptor and photographer Haneyl Choi opens on Aug. 25.
74 Hoenamu-ro, 이태원동, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Psy and plastic surgery are synonymous with Gangnam, but in fact, international galleries, KIAF and Frieze Seoul’s location at CoEx are the cultural bolt in this flashy district’s ever-evolving landscape.
Since 1989, this artist’s print workshop has produced over 20,000 prints with Korean and Western artists, including Michael Craig-Martin, Julian Opie, and John Baldessari. SP grew into a gallery starting in 1998, representing both mid-career and emerging artists. The team also has a consulting business advising local companies, international hotels, and hospitals. Their most recent exhibition featured Lee Jae Heon’s ethereal, blurred-out portraits.
30 Hoenamu-ro 44ga-gil, Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
760 Samseong-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
One of the first international galleries to establish a location in Seoul, Perrotin has been in Samcheong since 2016, and is currently showing Barry McGee’s bright, kaleidoscopic grid paintings through Sept. 8. However, the big news is: Perrotin has opened a second space in Dosan Park, a larger outfit, with their first show of British-American landscape painter Emma Webster.
10 Dosan-daero 45-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
5 Palpan-gil, Palpan-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The leading Berlin gallery currently represents over 40 international emerging and established artists, mostly belonging to younger generations, and opened their Seoul Branch in April 2021, led by P21 gallery founder Soo Choi. To coincide with the upcoming fairs, the gallery will present 12 new paintings by classically-trained realist Matthias Weischer. Depicting interior scenes that play with the rectangular confines of the canvas, “Mirrors and Things” opens on Sept. 1.
78-12 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
One of the smaller established galleries on our list, Um Gallery represents nearly 20 artists, largely from Korea, with recent solo exhibitions including figurative painter Hwang Young Ja and minimalist drawings by Hong Myung-seop. The gallery is one to watch, we’re told.
South Korea, Seoul, Gangnam-gu, 가로수길 64 3F UM GALLERY
New to Town
The Berlin gallery has arrived in Seoul, as its first location in Asia. is the most recent to open in Seoul; their upcoming inaugural exhibition is a group show of gallery artists. Representing a continuation of the longstanding commitment to the Korean art community, Esther Schipper Seoul open this week in central Seoul, headed by chief executive director Sunil Kim. The gallery sees this as their hub to grow alongside the Korean art scene, as well as expand operations in Asia. ESS opens with a group show of their roster artists.
Sojourner Truth Parsons, Beginning of June, 2022, from Esther Schipper's Frieze Seoul booth
6 Noksapyeong-daero 46ga-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Thaddaeus Ropac Seoul
122-1 Dokseodang-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Bortolami/Kreps team up with Tina Kim
Tina Kim is teaming up with Stefania Bortolami and Andrew Kreps for a group exhibition at the Songwon Art Center, a multi-purpose hub for art, crafts, and architecture established in 2017 as part of the Dongkuk Steel Group’s scholarship program. Facilitated by Kim and billed primarily as a collaboration between the two European dealers, "The Cumulative Effect" group exhibition will take over the two basement exhibition floors starting Aug. 30, featuring Oliver Lee Jackson, Clare Rojas, Cheyney Thompson, He Xiangyu, Minouk Lim, Pacita Abad, Ghada Amer, Mary Obering, Rebecca Morris, and Daniel Buren. On the first floor is Ghada Amer's solo exhibition "Paravent Girls.”
Songwon Art Center
75 Yunposun-gil, Hwa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Peres Projects opened in Seoul in April, and on Aug. 30, will open English painter Rebecca Ackroyd’s first solo show in Asia, “Fertile Ground”. Made up of new works on paper and two sculptures, Ackroyd draws inspiration from a building site in London. Matrices of subterranean pipes form an investigation of the infrastructure of memory and the subconscious. Peres Projects reveals more in our Q&A.
The Shilla Seoul Map
249 Dongho-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea