A committee of respected gallerists selects Ocula Member galleries. These galleries are considered to be among the best galleries in Seoul.Read More
Some of the best international contemporary art can be found displayed in galleries in Sogyeok-dong in Jongno-Gu, such as Kukje Gallery. The core exhibitions in the gallery's art space highlight the most promising Korean artists and established artists with contemporary art backgrounds. These include artists such as Anish Kapoor, Bill Viola, Chung Chang-Sup, Candida Höfer, Gimhongsok, and Haegue Yang.
From Kukje Gallery, walk along the main street flanking Gyeongbok Palace to visit Hakgojae Gallery, a leading Korean contemporary art gallery since its opening in Seoul in 1988.
Based in Samcheong-dong is PKM Gallery, established in 2001 by Park Kyung-Mee—Park Kyung-mee—the commissioner of the Korean Pavilion at the 49th Venice Biennale; and Barakat Contemporary, whose extensive programme has exhibited the work of Michael Rakowitz, Shezad Dawood, and El Anatsui, among others. PKM Gallery represents many influential and mid-career, more established artists from Korea, many of whom have an international reputation. Among these is the estate of Yun Hyong-keun, a key figure in the history of abstraction and Minimalist art in Korea, often referred to within the context of Dansaekwha.
Major art galleries can be found elsewhere in Jongno-Gu, including Arario Gallery, innovative in introducing Indian and Southeast Asian artists to Korea, and JARILAGER Gallery, which was founded by Sunhee Choi and Jari Lager.
Next door to the Arario Gallery is the Arario Museum, whose building was modelled after traditional building conventions. As it was built by such a respected architect, the building is being preserved and treated as a piece of art. Jongno-Gu is also home to the Gana Art Center, one of Korea's first major art galleries. It is noted for its focus on Korean and Asian contemporary art and its public art projects presented in three art spaces across the city.
Also spread across Seoul are contemporary art galleries, such as Whistle, P21, Mo J Gallery, Gallery SP, Gallery ERD, and C Y L I N D E R in Yongsan-gu, a district famous for its vibrant nightlife in Itaewon; SPACE SO near Hongdae, an arts hub in Mapo-gu.
In more recent years, buoyed by the rise of a new generation of collectors in South Korea, accessibility to the broader Asia region, and the commitment by Frieze to host a Seoul art fair each year, international galleries have sought a presence in the city too. Lehmann Maupin, Perrotin, and Pace Gallery all have spaces in Seoul, as do Peres Projects, KÖNIG GALERIE, Thaddaeus Ropac and Gladstone Gallery.
Explore the current and upcoming exhibitions showing at Ocula Member Galleries, Institutions and non-profit art spaces.Read More
Our exhibition profiles include press releases, installation images, and for gallery spaces, a selection of artworks being shown in Seoul. They also include access to profiles on exhibiting artists. With the aim to present only the best of contemporary art on Ocula, our Members are determined by a selection committee of respected and influential international gallerists.
Seoul is home to one of the world's most dynamic and vibrant arts scenes. Browse our extended selection of galleries to visit around the city, as recommended by the team at Ocula.
Seoul's museums, and non-profit institutions offer must-see viewing. Here is our selection of the best art spaces to visit in Seoul.
Ocula Magazine has developed a reputation for thoughtful and in-depth editorial dedicated to exploring the best in contemporary art.Read More
Our team regularly covers shows and art news relevant to Seoul. Ocula has interviewed many of leading Korean artists, including Haegue Yang and other artists who regularly show in Seoul, like Do Ho Suh, Daniel Boyd, Ugo Rondinone, and Anish Kapoor. Our editorial team also covers exhibitions via insights and features.
In Seoul you can view work by some of the world's most exciting Korean and international emerging artists. Below is a selection of artists with works currently on view in exhibitions showing with Ocula Member Galleries.Read More
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For those seeking an enriching experience of contemporary art in Seoul, Frieze Seoul and the Korea International Art Fair (Kiaf SEOUL) must not be missed. These two art fairs take place over what is now known in the global contemporary art calendar as Seoul Art Week, offering an immersive and enlightening journey into the heart of creativity and culture in Korea.Read More
Frieze Seoul, helmed by Patrick Lee, hosts over 100 of the world's leading contemporary art galleries showing group and solo booths. Showcasing an eclectic array of modern and contemporary artistic expressions, Frieze Seoul is an important global art world event to gauge the current state of the contemporary art market. Frieze returns to the Korean capital with an expanded line-up for Frieze Film, an initiative supporting the city's non-profit spaces, and the excitement of Frieze Music.
Similarly, Kiaf SEOUL stands as a testament to the city's dedication to both local and international artistic prowess. As a magnet for art enthusiasts and collectors, Kiaf SEOUL seamlessly melds traditional Korean art with the most recent global trends. The fair's carefully curated exhibitions not only provide a glimpse into the ever-evolving landscape of contemporary art, but also celebrate the city's rich cultural heritage. As a hub for cultural exchange, facilitating connections between artists, galleries, and visitors, Kiaf SEOUL fosters a deeper understanding of the artistic narrative both within Korea and on a global scale.
Seoul, the capital city of South Korea for more than 600 years, is today the nation's cultural center, housing many museums, galleries, and exhibition venues. The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA Seoul) lies at its heart in Jongno-Gu. MMCA is located next to the historic site of Gyeongbokgung Palace, which served as the main royal palace in the Joseon period (1392–1910). This annex of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is wedged between old and contemporary architecture on palace grounds among various sculpture parks, which also double as outdoor exhibition spaces. In addition, the modern and contemporary art museum has eight exhibition halls, a video library, a movie theater, and a food court.Read More
With its main branch based in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi-do, the MMCA Seoul branch opened in 2013 with the mission to deliver modern and contemporary art to the public. While its core exhibitions are permanent collections, the gallery features special exhibitions from iconic artists. Such artists include Marcel Duchamp, Yun Hyong-keun, Park Seo Bo, Choi Jeong Hwa, Shirin Neshat, Ai Weiwei, Hito Steyerl, and William Kentridge. The MMCA is also the site of prestigious awards such as the MMCA Hyundai Motor Series, dedicated to pioneering Korean artists, and the Korea Artist Prize.
From Gyeongbokgung, take Seoul's Metro or—on a nice day—a ten- to twenty-minute walk to galleries in the nearby Samcheong-dong, also known as "gallery street." Kumho Museum of Art, founded in 1989 to promote Korean art, houses the works of prominent Korean artists who have shaped modern art. Emerging and world-renowned contemporary artists include Nam June Paik, Lee Ufan, Kim Whanki. Since the mid-2000s, Kumho has also focused its program on design and architecture.
Gallery Hyundai, standing next to Kumho, was founded in 1970 by the pioneering gallerist Park Myung-ja. One of the first galleries to introduce abstract art to Korea, Gallery Hyundai's aims to gain global recognition for Korea's most influential artists and has been integral in developing Korea's contemporary art infrastructure. Gallery Hyundai is proud to represent prominent international artists in Asia, such as Kang Ik-Joong, Kwon Young-Woo, and Moon Kyungwon, Iván Navarro, and Robert Indiana. In addition, it has helped foster the careers of major artists that have shaped the course of Korean art history.
Some of the leading contemporary galleries in the world can also be found in Samcheong-dong. Kukje Gallery, founded in 1982 and opening in 1989, has been innovative in introducing Indian and Southeast Asian artists to Korea. Kukje Gallery provides the opportunity for Korean art audiences to encounter the works of internationally acclaimed artists, including Anish Kapoor, Bill Viola, Candida Höfer, Gimhongsok, Haegue Yang, and Kimsooja. Arario Gallery, In addition, the gallery has been a regular presence in Frieze New York and Art Basel in Hong Kong since the early 2000s. PKM Gallery has consistently presented exhibitions of Korean and international artists whose artworks reflect contemporary art trends, such as Lee Bul, Olafur Eliasson, Bruce Nauman, and Katie Paterson.
Jongno-gu is also home to numerous Korean galleries dedicated to contemporary art. Among them is the Gana Art Center, one of the first major art galleries to open in Korea. Other notable galleries include Barakat Contemporary, Gallery Chosun, Gallery KICHE, ONE AND J. Gallery, and Space Willing N Dealing.
Elsewhere in Seoul, contemporary art galleries Whistle, P21, and Mo J Gallery can be found in Yongsan-gu, a district famous for its vibrant nightlife in Itaewon; SPACE SO near Hongdae, an arts hub in Mapo-gu; and SEOJUNG ART in the famous Gangnam.
In the past decade, Seoul has emerged as an international art capital. Perrotin was among the first international galleries to open a branch in Jongno-gu in 2006, and JARILAGER Gallery followed in the same district in 2016. The year 2021 saw three major galleries, Pace Gallery, Gladstone Gallery, and König Galerie, establish locations in Seoul.
Art lovers wanting to experience contemporary Korean culture alongside art, may venture to the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA), which offers public exhibitions that address social issues. The contemporary and modern art museum located in the former building of the Supreme Court of Korea, is operated by the Seoul City Council. Designed by the acclaimed architect Zaha Hadid, Dongdaemun Design Plaza's diverse exhibition program encompasses Korean and international design, fashion, and fine art.
Some of the privately-run art museums in Seoul are also worthwhile for their vast collections. For example, the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, which opened in 2004, mostly houses traditional Korean art, including 36 pieces recognized as national treasures. Architects Jean Nouvel, Rem Koolhaas, and Mario Botta designed its buildings.
Image: Illustration of South Korean landmarks by rawpixel.com.