Ever since the pandemic brought just about all international art fairs to a grinding halt nine months ago, the operators of those pop-up bazaars have been shifting their schedules and raising capital, planning for a future in which the coronavirus recedes and global travel begins to resume. Could new offerings also be on the horizon?
A hot topic of discussion among arts professionals in South Korea right now is that Frieze is laying the groundwork for a fair in Seoul in the fall of 2022, as was first reported in the local Hankyoreh newspaper by Noh Hyeong-Seok in September.
On Thursday, a Frieze spokesperson had this to say when asked about what would be the company’s first entry into the Asian fair market: “We are always looking at potential new opportunities and have a great relationship with the Korean galleries, institutions, and collectors. Anything is possible, but there’s nothing to report at this stage.”
According to the Hankyoreh story, Frieze has signed a memo of understanding with the Galleries Association of Korea to develop a new fair that would run concurrently with the Korea International Art Fair (KIAF), which the association organizes. KIAF said in an email that “there is nothing to
KIAF brings more than 150 exhibitors to the COEX convention center in Seoul every fall. This year’s edition of KIAF, scheduled for September, was scuttled just weeks before its opening because of a virus outbreak; its next outing is on the calendar for October 2021.
If the Frieze Seoul comes to fruition, it would be the latest in a quick string of milestones for South Korea’s fast-expanding art world. New museums and galleries have been opening at a clip, with the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art christening branches in Seoul and Cheongju (in 2013 and 2019, respectively), and international dealers like Lehmann Maupin, Perrotin, and Pace opening in the capital in recent years.
Frieze currently runs fairs in New York, Los Angeles, and London, where it was founded as a magazine in 1991 by Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover.
Last week, it said that its L.A. fair would be held in July instead of February in a new format. Its New York edition is on tap for May, with a reduced number of booths, at the Shed in Manhattan rather than its longtime home on Randalls Island.
While KIAF was canceled this year, other art fairs have gone ahead over the past few weeks in South Korea, in Daegu and Busan, with some dealers undertaking two-week quarantines to enter the country.