On the occasion of Art Busans 8th edition, CoBo presents its top eight picks for this regionally game changing Art Fair.
Text: CoBo Editorial Force
Images: Courtesy of Art Busan & Galleries
The only city in South Korea left un-destroyed during the Korean war, Busan holds a unique position in the Korean historical and cultural landscape.Armed with a sense of responsibility tied to preserving heritage, the city has also persevered in developing a contemporary cultural narrative in recent years. With more and more galleries opening spaces in Busan, in addition to the occurrence of the well established and flourishing Busan Biennale, efforts to revive the city as a cultural hub are beginning to bear fruit. Furthering the pursuit of this endeavour, Art Busan’s strives to stimulate artistic activity, and bring art to the people through exposure and greater accessibility. Growing in calibre with every edition, this year’s fair remains resolute in their support of local galleries through strong representation while also highlighting the addition of major European galleries.
1. Ha Chong Hyun at Kukje Gallery
In addition to exhibiting works by stellar international artists they represent including Elmgreen & Dragset, Anish Kapoor, Julian Opie, and Ugo Rondinone, Kukje presents the work of renowned Dansaekwha master Ha Chong Hyun. The work on display is from his latest series, Conjunction, emits a magnetic, hypnotic quality, drawing viewers in.The deep, rich hue is achieved through a new “smoking” technique invented by the artist where thick smoke is applied to wet paint. Concurrently holding a solo show at the gallery’s Busan space (housed in a stunning industrial complex which used to house a wire factory), this is the first time the artist has exhibited new works in Korea since 2015.
2. Petra Cortright at Société Berlin
The much buzzed about post internet sensation Petra Cortright dominates the halls of BEXCO, her signature aesthetic emblazoned across banners ubiquitous throughout the venue. Société Berlin, ever championing digital mediums and post internet artists, make their Busan debut with a bang, dedicating their booth to the artist’s ongoing explorations into the creation and distribution of digital files.Digitally conceived, her paintings utilize traditional subject matter presented in a contemporary manner, relevantly challenging painting norms in age of the internet.
3. Johyun Gallery
Local stalwarts, Johyun gallery’s eye catching booth features work by many gallery artists, most notably Kim Chong-Hak, whose incredible emerald-hued mural – esque creation warps itself to the booth’s walls.The renowned painters signature vibrant and nature themed aesthetic, adjacent to Bosco Sodi’s intense exploration of the properties of colour, automatically draws viewers in.
4. Nuria Fuster at Efremidis Gallery
New kids on the block (they recently opened in the fall of 2018), Efremidis gallery hail from Berlin, bringing the works of Nuria Fuster – an multi disciplinary artist who navigates notions of material reorganisation through photography, installation and sculpture.Her works make for a curious and unexpected discovery in Art Busan, the works of paper (pictured above) in particular, presenting a delicate but gravitational expression of colour as sculpture. Additionally on view, demonstrating the diversity of her practice, are a range of photographs and sculptural installations, including a large inflated mattress and brass wind-chime like contraption, encapsulating a stand-out booth presentation.
5). Tang Contemporary
With a diversified line-up of established artists, Tang contemporary are certainly making their presence felt in Busan. Amongst the likes of Zhu Junshi, Zhao Zhao, Wu Wei, Cai Lei, Rodel Tapaya, Chen Yujun, it’s the sculptural/installation based works by Ai Wei Wei that evoke maximum curiosity.In contrast to his more shock inducing work (also on view at Tang’s booth in the form of White Ant Hill from Wang’s family), the gallery presents Dragon Vase – a porcelain vase based of a traditional Ming dynasty model.Subtly marked with the artist’s signature satire, the elegant vases depict the traditionally five clawed hand, with six claws instead.
6). Donna Huanca at Peres Projects
Another key player from Berlin, Peres Projects brings to Busan works by Beth Letain, Blair Thurman, in addition to a focus on Bolivian-American artist Donna Huanca.Part performative, and partially a representation of her prior works, the artist’s largely blue toned (a nod to Yves Klein) canvases are the result of a collage of images of past performances and works, which are painted over by the artist with oil, sand, and pigments. Channeling her performative energy, her works yield gravitating pull to fair visitors.
7). Han Aram at Gallery Hiatus
Poetic, subtle, and flowing, ceramicist Han Aram’s sculptural installations of ceramic books provide relief from the consistency of bright colours and highly charged aesthetics that have dominated the fair. The blue to white ombre aesthetic and innovative organic arrangements may initially seem deceptively decorative but lend to the Korean artist’s pursuit of a meditative depiction of the flow of water.
8). Almine Rech
Demonstrating Art Busan’s commitment to diversifying their gallery participant list and international exposure, the famed Almine Rech is the fourth European gallery to make it’s Art Busan debut. Engaging the local market by bringing works of Ha Chong-Hyun and Kim Tschang-Yeul (both of whom joined the gallery in recent years), the gallery also brings works by European and American artists who feature strongly in their roster of artists.Notable are works by Italian, zero avant-garde sculptor Turi Simetti, minimalist wooden sculptures and monochromatic canvases.
Our ninth unofficial highlight is the tranquil atmosphere and breathable pace of the fair.Perhaps imbibing the relaxed beach vibes of the city, the colourful airy halls, occupied by just the right amount of crowds, contributed towards one of the more pleasant fair going experiences we have encountered thus far.
Art Busan May 31 – Jun 2
BEXCO, Busan, South Korea.