Seoul, seems to be the upcoming art city at the moment. This week sees the first Korean edition of Frieze, with 110 galleries plus the usual range of special features. Other attractions include a parallel edition of the 164-gallery KIAF Fair, the first to be established locally twenty years ago, significant institutions, and a lively gallery scene. Much of this can be enjoyed remotely – I’m there in soul rather than body. As for what is virtually viewable, most of it could plausibly have featured in Europe or America – including, I’d say, the following choices, even though I’ve concentrated mostly on Asian artists:
Tao Hui: Being Wild No.3, 2021
Tao Hui, from Yunyang in the north of China, is showing his haunting new short film ‘Being Wild’ (still at top), plus associated photographs (No. 3 above), at Hong Kong’s Kiang Malingue gallery. He follows a diva-flâneur musing aloud and singing songs with melancholy lyrics as she skates from one empty environment to another, emphasising the artificiality and eeriness of the various sites and suggesting a parallel with the protagonist’s life. She likes staying in small towns, but notes that, as China has 19,522, it would take her 53 years to stay in every one for a night. The gallery assesses the film as ‘summarising a period that is at once desperate and hopeful’.
Do Ho Suh and children: Artland, 2022
Do Ho Suh, a Seoul-born but now London-based, is best known for fabric sculptures of his former homes in Korea, Germany and the USA. He combines with his children to present a highly unusual show at The Seoul Museum of Art. Over the past seven years, Suh and his family have been creating a fantastical ecosystem called Artland out of children’s modelling clay – I guess they had fewer problems than most deciding what to do during the pandemic. The result is a charming and ever-expanding world, to which visiting children are encouraged to add their own visions of alien species.
Armin Boehm: Whispering Wind, 2022,
The German artist Armin Boehm has developed a distinctive language of painterly collage combining oil with paper and fabric on canvas. His recent figures have often incorporated more than one face, as if at odds with themselves, and the psychologically troubled atmosphere is further darkened by the nocturnal settings of the works in his new show at Choi & Choi. So the wind may well be whispering, here, of a time out of joint – but rather beautifully so.
Yirui Jia: Bang Bang Crush, 2022
Young New York based Chinese painter and sculptor Yirui Jia has a lively way of sets imaginary characters into dramatic interactions with their environments. Here she seems to ask how many hands we’d need to deal fully with social media, while leaving it unclear whether he alter ego is feeding off her outsized phone or attacking it… From Mitchell-Innes & Nash’s stand at Frieze.
Michael Craig-Martin: Rock, 2022
Cristea-Roberts are among the well-known western galleries showing at KIAF. Michael Craig-Martin has found a personal visual language through the depiction of everyday objects, saying that he ‘came to feel that the objects around us, particularly the ones that we value the least because they were the most ubiquitous, were actually the most interesting’. This new example (from a set of three screenprints) animates the objects as an ensemble both through colour and by implying their absent human agents.
He Xiangyu: Untitled, 2021.
Chinese artist He Xianyu often combines a gold egg carton (here plated on bronze) with a single quotidian egg – juxtaposing impractical wealth against basic nourishment and luxury against deprivation. He, as a child of the 1980’s, also refers to the single child policy (1980-2015) which profoundly shaped his generation. From the Andrew Kreps Gallery stand at Frieze.
Art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent sees a lot of shows: we asked him to jot down whatever came into his head