At last. After many months of speculation, and then many more months of anticipation, the inaugural edition of Frieze Seoul opens Friday at the Coex Convention and Exhibition Center in the Gangnam district, alongside the Korea International Art Fair. Hundreds of exhibitors from around the world will be on hand. In many other countries, galleries are still closed for summer breaks, but not here. All around the South Korean capital, dealers have been opening major exhibitions in recent days, hoping to lure visitors who are in town for the fairs, and perhaps in the mood to buy. Below, five picks for exhibitions to see from the many dozens that are on offer.
A few quick notes first: A bevy of excellent international galleries have set up outposts in town in recent years, but the focus for this list is on homegrown outfits. (I enjoy a Shack Shack burger while traveling—and here in Seoul!—but it would be bizarre not to sample the local delicacies first.) And all of these space are north of the river, fairly far from Gangnam, a restriction I set because I figure that venues there will be more heavily trafficked due to their proximity to Coex. For those navigating the city for the first time: P21 and Whistle are less than 10 minutes apart by foot; strolling from PKM to Museumhead, through the beautiful Bukchon Hanok Village, will take about 20 minutes; and BB&M and Gallery2 are further north from there, and are best reached by car. Why did I just name six galleries for a list of five shows? Read on!