The first-ever Frieze Seoul event taking place in Korea could be a signal the country is attracting major notice as an Asian art hub. Behind that attention are the many notable galleries trying to develop the country’s art and artists.
In the contemporary art scene, Barakat Contemporary, a Seoul-based gallery, has been laying a foundation for positioning Korea’s most noteworthy contemporary art within worldwide trends since its foundation in 2016.
Barakat Contemporary’s approach to exhibition programs has been unique for a commercial gallery, and the artists it spotlights have been culturally diverse -- so much so that its program has been described by some as “abstruse” and “experimental.” But its unique programs have also garnered a following of its own among major Korean and overseas institutions, curators and “art people.”
Barakat Contemporary has been growing fast as a gallery, anticipating the current trend with its organization of exhibitions by important Korean artists and development of dynamic and expanded forms of arts programs. It has also supported the long-term growth of unique artists with radical domestic and overseas projects it has designed.
During the week highlighted by Frieze Seoul, the artists featured at Barakat Contemporary have gone on to make a major mark at various large-scale exhibitions and events in Korea and abroad.
Sung Hwan Kim
An installation view of “A Record of Drifting Across the Sea” (2022) at Museum of Contemporary Art, Busan, which is part of the Busan Biennale 2022 (Suin Kwon/Courtesy of the artist)
At the moment at Barakat Contemporary 1 and 2, artist Sung Hwan Kim is presenting “Night Crazing,” from Aug. 30 to Oct. 30. The New York- and Honolulu-based Kim has held past solo exhibitions at New York‘s Museum of Modern Art, London’s Tate Modern, Kunsthalle Basel in Switzerland and Art Sonje Center in Seoul, and has also taken part in the Venice Biennale and Hawaii Triennial. In 2021, he was awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship.
His exhibition at Barakat Contemporary is expected to draw particular attention from the art world as his first solo exhibition in Korea in eight years, the last having been held at Art Sonje Center in 2014.
To share an expansive artistic vision spanning over two decades, Kim’s “Night Crazing” will be presented as a mixed media installation exhibition at two venues: Barakat Contemporary 1 (36 Samcheongro 7-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul) and Barakat Contemporary 2 (58-4 Samcheongro, Jongno-gu, Seoul).
Each exhibition setting will consist of a major video work by the artist, along with drawings and installation works that interact with it. In addition to his solo exhibition at Barakat Contemporary, Kim is expected to draw major attention as one of the representative artists taking part in Busan Biennale 2022, which adopts the theme “We, on the Rising Wave.” On the first basement level of the Museum of Contemporary Art Busan, he is scheduled to present his video work “Hair is a Piece of Head” (2021), together with sculptures, drawings and a photography installation.
An installation view of “Chung Seoyoung: What I Saw Today” (Dogyun Kim/Seoul Museum of Art)
From Sept. 1 to Nov. 13, Chung Seoyoung, also represented by Barakat Contemporary, will be holding a solo exhibition on the first floor of the Seoul Museum of Art’s main branch at Seosomun.
A representative artist for the Korean Pavilion of the 50th Venice Biennale, Chung is a Korean contemporary art pioneer who has held solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle Portikus in Frankfurt, Germany as well as Seoul’s Art Sonje Center, Atelier Hermes and Ilmin Museum of Art.
She has also participated in numerous events in Korea and overseas, including the fourth and seventh Gwangju Biennale and the Mediacity Biennale, along with other events at Plateau Museum, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, Taipei Fine Arts Museum and Hong Kong Arts Center.
The Chung Seoyoung solo exhibition “What I Saw Today” has been part of SeMA’s series since 2021, highlighting Korea’s leading contemporary artists. “What I Saw Today” presents 33 works by Chung, including nine new ones alongside other major works produced and shown since 1993, as it redefines the relationship between “sculpture” and “object” that has transformed over the years.
Sojung Jun‘s “Green Screen” (2021) (Barakat Contemporary)
Another artist affiliated with Barakat Contemporary is Sojung Jun, who is preparing to open her own exhibition at Leeum Museum of Art in Yongsan, Seoul. Jun has taken part in numerous solo and group exhibitions at MMCA, SeMA, Museum of Fine Arts Bern, Nam June Paik Art Center, Atelier Hermes, Arko Art Center, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Villa Vassilieff in Paris, the 11th Gwangju Biennale, Leeum Museum of Art and the National Museum of Art, Osaka.
An artist who has used her various experiments with video, installation, publication and sculpture media to create a nonlinear space and time between history and the present, Jun is presenting “Green Screen,” a solo screening of three video works that coincides with the Frieze Seoul period.
This screening will be held at Leeum’s “The Wall” from Aug. 23 to Jan. 29, 2023. This exhibition will be an unmissable event, as Jun embarks on an ambitious project that breaks away from the traditional exhibition setting to make active use of the passages connecting the museum’s various locations and the arcade that serves as a temporary gathering space.
An installation view of Yunchul Kim’s “Chroma V,2020” at the Venice Biennale 2022. (Roman Marz/Barakat Contemporary)
Yet another major Barakat Contemporary presence is Yunchul Kim, a representative artist at the Venice Biennale’s Korean Pavilion who is now receiving major attention globally and being courted by some of the most eminent overseas institutions.
Kim has been honored with international awards such as Collide, which is presented by CERN, the world’s largest particle physics research center, and third prize at the VIDA 15.0 in Spain. His work has been shown at such preeminent international institutions and events as CCCB (Spain), FACT (UK), ZKM (Germany), Ars Electronica (Austria), Stadtische Galerie (Germany), the International Triennial of New Media Art (China), Schering Stiftung (Germany), Transmediale (Germany) and Electrohype (Sweden).
His Korean Pavilion exhibition “Gyre” began on April 23 and continues through Nov. 27. (email@example.com