South Korea

Seoul Art Guide

Korea's capital city for more than 600 years, Seoul is today the nation's cultural centre, housing many museums, galleries, and exhibition venues. The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA Seoul) lies at its heart, located next to the historical site of Gyeongbokgung Palace, which served as the main royal palace in the Joseon period (1392–1910). With its main branch based in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi-do, the MMCA Seoul opened in 2013 with the mission to deliver modern and contemporary art to the public. Some of the iconic artists to have been exhibited at MMCA Seoul include Marcel Duchamp, Yun Hyong-keun, Choi Jeong Hwa, Shirin Neshat, 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.

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From Gyeongbokgung, take Seoul's Metro or—on a nice day—a ten- to twenty-minute walk to galleries in the nearby Samcheong District, also known as 'gallery street'. Kumho Museum of Art, founded in 1989 to promote Korean art, houses the works of artists who have shaped modern Korean art—including Nam June Paik, Lee Ufan, and Kim Whanki—as well as emerging Korean artists. Since the mid-2000s, Kumho has also focused its programme on design and architecture.

Gallery Hyundai, which stands right 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 represents leading Korean artists Kang Ik-Joong, Kwon Young-Woo, and Moon Kyungwon, amongst others, as well as international artists such as Iván Navarro and Robert Indiana.

Some of the leading contemporary galleries in the world can be found in Samcheong district as well. Kukje Gallery, founded in 1982, is known for its roster of Korean and international artists including Anish Kapoor, Bill Viola, Candida Höfer, Gimhongsok, Haegue Yang, and Kimsooja. Arario Gallery, which opened in 1989, has been innovative in introducing Indian and Southeast Asian artists to Korea. A regular presence in Frieze New York and Art Basel in Hong Kong since the early 2000s, PKM Gallery has exhibited Lee Bul, Olafur Eliasson, Bruce Nauman, and Katie Paterson, among others.

Other galleries are scattered throughout Seoul. One of the first major art galleries to open in Korea, Gana Art is a chief Korean and Asian contemporary art gallery noted for its public art projects. ONE AND J. Gallery, in Jongno District, was founded in 2005 and is dedicated to contemporary artists, among them Suyoung Kim, Min Ha Park, and New Zealand-based Seung Yul Oh. CHOI&LAGER Gallery was founded by Sunhee Choi and Jari Lager, and established a Seoul outpost in 2016.

Those wanting to experience contemporary Korean culture alongside art may venture to Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA), located in the former building of the Supreme Court of Korea and offering public exhibitions that address social issues. Designed by the acclaimed architect Zaha Hadid, Dongdaemun Design Plaza's diverse exhibition programme encompasses design, fashion, and art, both Korean and international.

Some of Seoul's privately-run art museums are also worthwhile for their vast collections. Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, which opened in 2004, houses 36 pieces that are recognised as national treasures. Its buildings are designed by the architects Jean Nouvel, Rem Koolhaas, and Mario Botta.


Current Exhibition | Seoul
15–27 October 2020
Sun Woo

soloshow : On

Gallery Chosun, Seoul View Exhibition
soloshow : On
Current Exhibition | Seoul
15 October–14 November 2020
Hyunsun Jeon

From Fig to Cone

GALLERY2, Seoul View Exhibition
Exhibition view: Hyunsun Jeon, From Fig to Cone, Gallery2, Seoul (15 October–14 November 2020). Courtesy Gallery2. 
From Fig to Cone
Current Exhibition | Seoul
15 October–13 December 2020
Yangachi

Galaxy Express

Barakat Contemporary, Seoul View Exhibition
Exhibition View: Yangachi, Galaxy Express, Barakat Contemporary, Seoul (15 October–13 December 2020). Courtesy Barakat Contemporary.
Galaxy Express
Current Exhibition | Seoul
8–29 October 2020
Sanghoon Ahn

On special days, we need a story ­ not to wait alone, to remain forgotten

Gallery Chosun, Seoul View Exhibition
On special days, we need a story ­ not to wait alone, to remain forgotten
Current Exhibition | Seoul
22 September–25 October 2020
Seung Yul Oh

Touch

One And J. Gallery, Seoul View Exhibition

Exhibition view: Seung Yul Oh, Touch, ONE AND J. Gallery, Seoul (22 September–25 October 2020).  Courtesy ONE AND J. Gallery.

Touch
Current Exhibition | Seoul
11 September–24 October 2020

1,056 Hours

Whistle, Seoul View Exhibition
Exhibition view: Sulki and Min, 1,056 Hours, Whistle, Seoul (11 September–24 October 2020). Courtesy Whistle. Photo: Kyoungtae Kim.
1,056 Hours
Current Exhibition | Seoul
3 September–31 October 2020
Jennifer Steinkamp

Souls

Lehmann Maupin, Seoul View Exhibition
Exhibition view: Jennifer Steinkamp, Souls, Lehmann Maupin, Seoul (3 September–31 October 2020). Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London. Photo: OnArt Studio.
Souls
Current Exhibition | Seoul
2 September–24 October 2020
Nigel Cooke
Pace Gallery, Seoul View Exhibition
Exhibition view: Nigel Cooke, Pace Gallery, Seoul (2 September–24 October 2020). Courtesy Pace Gallery.
Nigel Cooke
Current Exhibition | Seoul
1 September–14 November 2020
Eko Nugroho

Lost in Parody

Arario Gallery, Seoul View Exhibition
Exhibition View: Eko Nugroho, Lost in Parody, Arario Gallery, Seoul (1 September–14 November 2020). Courtesy Eko Nugroho and Arario Gallery.
Lost in Parody
Upcoming Exhibition | Seoul
12 November 2020–20 January 2021
Chantal Joffe

Teenagers

Lehmann Maupin, Seoul View Exhibition
Chantal Joffe, Fraser and Esme (2020) (detail). Oil on board. (50.6 x 40.6 cm. © Chantal Joffe. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro.
Teenagers

Current Exhibitions In Seoul

View All Past Exhibitions (350)
Contemporary art exhibition, Sun Woo, soloshow : On at Gallery Chosun, Seoul
15–27 October 2020 Sun Woo soloshow : On Gallery Chosun, SeoulSeoul
Contemporary art exhibition, Hyunsun Jeon, From Fig to Cone at GALLERY2, Seoul
15 October–14 November 2020 Hyunsun Jeon From Fig to Cone GALLERY2, SeoulSeoul
Contemporary art exhibition, Yangachi, Galaxy Express at Barakat Contemporary, Seoul
15 October–13 December 2020 Yangachi Galaxy Express Barakat Contemporary, SeoulSeoul
Contemporary art exhibition, Seung Yul Oh, Touch at One And J. Gallery, Seoul
22 September–25 October 2020 Seung Yul Oh Touch One And J. Gallery, SeoulSeoul
Contemporary art exhibition, 1,056 Hours at Whistle, Seoul
11 September–24 October 2020 1,056 Hours Whistle, SeoulSeoul
Contemporary art exhibition, Jennifer Steinkamp, Souls at Lehmann Maupin, Seoul
3 September–31 October 2020 Jennifer Steinkamp Souls Lehmann Maupin, SeoulSeoul
Contemporary art exhibition, Nigel Cooke, Nigel Cooke at Pace Gallery, Seoul
2 September–24 October 2020 Nigel Cooke Pace Gallery, SeoulSeoul
Contemporary art exhibition, Eko Nugroho, Lost in Parody at Arario Gallery, Seoul
1 September–14 November 2020 Eko Nugroho Lost in Parody Arario Gallery, SeoulSeoul
Contemporary art exhibition, Chantal Joffe, Teenagers at Lehmann Maupin, Seoul
12 November 2020–20 January 2021 Chantal Joffe Teenagers Lehmann Maupin, SeoulSeoul

Ocula Member Galleries In Seoul

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Arario Gallery contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea Arario Gallery Cheonan, Seoul, Shanghai
Baik Art contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea Baik Art Los Angeles, Seoul
Choi&Lager Gallery contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea Choi&Lager Gallery Cologne, Seoul
GALLERY2 contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea GALLERY2 Seoul
Kukje Gallery contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea Kukje Gallery Busan, Seoul
Lehmann Maupin contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea Lehmann Maupin New York, Hong Kong, London, Seoul
One And J.+1 contemporary art gallery in One and J.+1, South Korea One And J.+1 Seoul
One Four contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea One Four Seoul
P21 contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea P21 Seoul
Pace Gallery contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea Pace Gallery New York, London, Geneva, Palo Alto, Hong Kong, Seoul, Beijing
Perrotin contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea Perrotin Hong Kong, New York, Paris, Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo
PKM Gallery contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea PKM Gallery Seoul
Whistle contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea Whistle Seoul

Contemporary Institutions In Seoul

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Seoul In Ocula Magazine

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Three Artists Explore Bodily States at Seoul's Art Sonje Center Ocula Insight Three Artists Explore Bodily States at Seoul's Art Sonje Center By Sherry Paik, Seoul

Showing at Art Sonje Center in Seoul until 13 September 2020, three concurrent exhibitions examine various states of the body through new and recent works by Don Sunpil, Camille Henrot, and Mire Lee.

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Hyungkoo Lee: Seriously Fake Science Ocula Conversation Hyungkoo Lee: Seriously Fake Science By Sherry Paik, Seoul

Korean artist Hyungkoo Lee 's exhibitions evoke a scientist's lab or an archaeologist's workshop, often equipped with outlandish gadgets, skeletal or anatomical models in vitrines, or a desk with incomplete skulls, brushes, and notes. Yet his wearable devices, drawings, and sculptures hardly depict real-life subjects—they are chimeras borne...

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Sunjung Kim’s Real DMZ Project Interrogates the North and South Korea Divide Ocula Conversation Sunjung Kim’s Real DMZ Project Interrogates the North and South Korea Divide By Sherry Paik, Seoul

Ongoing since 2012, the Real DMZ Project interrogates the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea through annual, research-based exhibitions that bring together the works of Korean and international artists. Sunjung Kim, the independent curator behind the project, conceived the idea of exploring the DMZ while curating Japanese...

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Nicholas Hlobo at Lehmann Maupin, Seoul Ocula Insight Nicholas Hlobo at Lehmann Maupin, Seoul By Ocula IGTV

South African artist Nicholas Hlobo 's signature materials of rubber, ribbon, leather, and wood were all present in his first solo exhibition in Korea, held between 21 March and 18 May 2019 in Seoul. It comprised new and recent paintings along with a sculpture of copper piping titled Dyumpu (2019), each piece reflecting the artist's...

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Recent Events In Seoul

View All (3)
Contemporary art exhibition, KIAF/14  at Ocula Private Sales & Advisory, London
25–29 September 2014 KIAF/14
Contemporary art exhibition, G-Seoul 2014 at Ocula Private Sales & Advisory, London
8–11 May G-Seoul 2014
Contemporary art exhibition, KIAF/13 at Ocula Private Sales & Advisory, London
3–7 October 2013 KIAF/13

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