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[From the scene] Inaugural Grand International Art Fair at Shilla Seoul bustles with art lovers

By Park Yuna

Published : July 2, 2023 - 18:34

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An installation view of a hotel room at the Grand International Art Fair at the Shilla Seoul (The GIAF) An installation view of a hotel room at the Grand International Art Fair at the Shilla Seoul (The GIAF)

The inaugural Grand International Art Fair took over the 11th and 12th floors of the five-star Shilla Seoul hotel in Jung-gu, central Seoul, transforming 68 rooms into exhibition spaces for 68 galleries, showcasing the works of more than 300 artists from Friday to Sunday.

“It is interesting to see artworks on display at a hotel room for people who want to put up art at home. I think it is especially good for newbie collectors because the lighting in a hotel room is similar to the lighting at home," said Kim Eun-jung from Daegu, who visited the art fair.

An installation view of a hotel room at the Grand International Art Fair at the Shilla Seoul (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald) An installation view of a hotel room at the Grand International Art Fair at the Shilla Seoul (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

The fair attracted more than 3,000 people, many of whom stayed at the luxury hotel, which has been operating since 1979.

“We thought it would be fun to look around at the art before leaving the hotel,” said Kim Se-hee from Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, on Sunday.

An installation view of a hotel room at the Grand International Art Fair at the Shilla Seoul (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald) An installation view of a hotel room at the Grand International Art Fair at the Shilla Seoul (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

The fair focused on small and medium-sized artworks, offering an intimate exploration of the latest art trends. The participating galleries included some 10 galleries from outside South Korea, including Krabhouse from Nigeria and Yamaki Art Gallery from Japan.

The Polish Artists Association, which represents more than 8,500 artists in Poland, also joined the art fair, supported by the Polish Embassy in Seoul. The works of two Polish artists -- Karolina Ostazewska and Anna Kutera -- were presented at the exhibition.

"Moods" by John Ogbeta (Krabhouse)

Paintings by four North Korean-born artists -- Ahn Su-min, Ahn Chung-guk, Shim Ju-bin and Oh Seong-cheol -- were on display in the "Taedong River" space, named after the largest river in North Korea.

“I visited (the exhibition) to see a painting by Ugo Rondinone in person. Although the economic slowdown continues, people are eager to appreciate good art,” said a collector from Busan, surnamed Cho, on Sunday.

Ugo Rondinone, a Swiss-born artist, was among some of the world's renowned artists whose works were shown at the art fair, along with South Korean painters Lee Ufan, Park Seo-bo and Lee Bae, American figurative artist Alex Katz and Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami.

An installation view of a hotel room at the Grand International Art Fair at the Shilla Seoul (The GIAF) An installation view of a hotel room at the Grand International Art Fair at the Shilla Seoul (The GIAF)

Chang Seun-heun, CEO of the GIAF, said the number of visitors to the fair was three times higher than expected.

Chang has been in charge of the Corso Art Fair since 2010. The fair has taken place across cities in Gyeongsang Province, including Pohang, Ulsan and Daegu. He re-established its brand as the GIAF this year. The Korea Herald is co-hosting the event in celebration of the newspaper's 70th anniversary.

“Some of the galleries sold over three quarters of the art they brought to the fair. After Seoul, we are planning to expand to Busan in October and to Hong Kong in March,” Chang said.

A handcrafted jar created by Kim Hyo-sun is on display at the GIAF on Sunday. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald) A handcrafted jar created by Kim Hyo-sun is on display at the GIAF on Sunday. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)