This is the seventh in a 10-part series on prominent art galleries in Korea. – Ed
Park Kyung-mee, president of PKM Gallery in Hwa-dong, central Seoul, and PKM Trinity Gallery in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul, is a role model for many curators in Korea.
She worked as a curator for 11 years at Kukje Gallery and individually, and gradually grew to become one of the most influential figures in the Korean art field. She successfully curated a number of major art events, including the 2001 Venice Biennale for which Park was the commissioner of the Korean pavilion. Park finally opened her own gallery in Hwa-dong after the Biennale.
“My basic thought on Korean contemporary art has always been the same; that we need a paradigm shift from the older artists to the younger ones. It has slowly changed that way, so I think I have chosen the right direction,” said Park.
PKM Trinity Gallery which Park opened in 2008 usually holds large exhibitions on established foreign artists but PKM Gallery in Hwa-dong still features experimental works by young artists based on Park’s original standard of values.
Park Kyung-mee, president of PKM Gallery Ahn Hoon / The Korea Herald
Park had also opened a branch in Beijing in 2006, the sixth Korean gallery to launch in China, but it was closed down last December. “It did not show a loss but did not operate in the black either. It was worse because the market was so bad last winter. China is yet not a mature place for full-fledged contemporary art to be showcased. So it was still meaningful that PKM Gallery Beijing got to introduce some fresh, leading contemporary arts in China,” said Park.
Park has no immediate plans to open another gallery outside of Korea. Instead, she will be focusing more on the domestic market, said Park. That is why PKM, one of the Korean galleries most spotted at international art fairs, did not participate at the recent Hong Kong fair.
“We have been slowing down our participation in international art fairs since last year, because we know that holding exhibitions on our home ground is important, too. But we are considering participating in the next year’s Hong Kong fair,” said Park.
Park has been famous for her discerning eye for talented artists ever since her days as a curator. She still organizes exhibitions and selects artists herself. But as she now has a tighter schedule as a director, she came up with an innovative outsourcing system for the gallery in cooperation with Bartleby Bickle & Meursault, an art consulting and publishing firm, last year.
“James Lee, the director of BB&M and I have known each other for more than 15 years and our eyes for contemporary art and artists are very similar. As the gallery gets bigger, it becomes impossible for me to be in charge of everything. So I wanted to try something new; something that is not too off the mark from what I would have done but is still more active,” she said.
BB&M works exclusively with PKM. It takes care of the exhibitions and artists at the Hwa-dong gallery. The two have held several shows this year, including the solo exhibition by installation artist Park Chan-kyong -- film director Park Chan-wook’s brother -- which ended last weekend. This kind of partnership is more common among galleries outside of Korea, but it is a new approach here, said Park.
Starting this year, Park is also trying out a new system to develop young and talented artists in the form of a contest. PKM will announce a medium every year and young artists between 25 to 30 years of age can submit their works that correspond to the medium. This year’s medium is drawing, and submissions are open through Friday.
So what kind of artist, exactly, is PKM looking for?
“Contemporary artists should express a contemporaneousness which can be read through a universal context. And also, most importantly, they should work hard,” said Park.
“When a certain gallery’s artists’ become established, the gallery’s value is increased as well. I hope PKM can develop and get a hold of many artists who will become big and the gallery can also become the top and stay there for a long time as well.”
For more information on PKM Gallery or PKM Trinity Gallery, visit www.pkmgallery.com.
By Park Min-young (firstname.lastname@example.org