After months of speculation, Frieze said on Tuesday that it will stage an art fair in Seoul in September 2022, adding another jolt of energy to South Korea’s growing art industry. It will be the company’s first fair in Asia, and Seoul will be the fourth city it has entered, following London (where it began in 2003), New York (2012), and Los Angeles (2019).
Frieze Seoul, which will feature about 100 galleries, will be a partnership with the Galleries Association of Korea, running concurrently with that organization’s annual Korea International Art Fair at the COEX convention center in the Gangnam area. It is set to run from September 2 through 5 of 2022.
As with other Frieze fairs, the Seoul edition will focus on contemporary art, but there will also be a section branded as Frieze Masters, which the firm started in London in 2012 to showcase material from throughout history.
Frieze made its Seoul announcement just as Art Basel opens its Hong Kong fair this week, after being scuttled last year because of the coronavirus. Frieze Seoul will be a clear competitor to Art Basel Hong Kong, which typically hosts more than 200 booths.
Working with the Galleries Association provides Frieze direct entree to the Korean market and the ability to host its event at a time when local collectors are typically already active. The Korea International Art Fair, which was created in 2002, is the most important contemporary art fair in South Korea, taking place each September. KIAF’s 2020 outing was canceled amid a coronavirus uptick, but in 2019 it had more than 170 exhibitors, the vast majority of them Korean galleries or international galleries with a branch in the country.
“We are honored to be working alongside the Galleries Association of Korea in a spirit of collaboration that is right for our time,” Victoria Siddall, Frieze’s board director, said in a statement.
Dal-Seung Hwang, who chairs the association and runs Keumsan Gallery in the capital city, said in a statement that the partnership “will confirm Seoul as a hub of the global art market, and South Korea a major destination for the art market in Asia.”
The new venture comes amid a burst of foreign interest in South Korea’s art world, with dealers from abroad pouring into the scene over the past five years. Among those with spaces in Seoul are König, Lehmann Maupin, Perrotin, and Pace, which is moving to a larger gallery in the Hannam neighborhood later this month. Last week, Thaddaeus Ropac said he will add a Seoul branch to his galleries in London, Paris, and Salzburg, Austria.
As it stands now, anyone who enters South Korea is required to complete a 14-day quarantine, even if they have been vaccinated. But if international travel has resumed by early September 2022, expect to see a solid chunk of the globetrotting art crowd kicking off the start of the art season in Seoul.