Thaddaeus Ropac Seoul Opening Fuels Frieze Rumours
Kyu Jin Hwang, Thaddaeus Ropac's Director, Asia. Courtesy Thaddaeus Ropac.
Thaddaeus Ropac will open a new space in Seoul's Hannam-dong district this October, adding to its existing galleries in London, Paris, and Salzburg.
The gallery will be housed in a 750-square-metre space on the first floor of the Fort Hill building, which received the Korean National Architecture Award in 2011. It is located near the National Museum of Korea, the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, and the Amorepacific Museum of Art.
Thaddaeus Ropac said the gallery's ties to South Korean institutions had grown significantly over the years.
'Having worked with the artist Lee Bul since 2007 and staged a memorable show of Lee Ufan's work in Paris in 2009, as well as collaborating with the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Korea for a Georg Baselitz exhibition in 2007, we look forward to deepening these relationships,' he said.
Kyu Jin Hwang, the gallery's Asia director, will divide her time between Seoul and London.
Frieze Seoul 2022?
The announcement of Thaddaeus Ropac's new Seoul space comes hard on the heels of KÖNIG Galerie opening a new location in the Korean capital on 3 April, and Pace Gallery expanding their space in the city, which will open with an exhibition by Sam Gilliam on 27 May.
(Also in the region, Lehmann Maupin announced today a new seasonal exhibition space in Taipei's Da'an District, which will open 26 June and continue through mid-August.)
The rush by global galleries to grow their presence in Seoul fuelled rumours that Frieze will launch a new fair in the city in 2022, though Seoul is already an attractive proposition for galleries.
Soo Choi, managing director of König Seoul, said, 'it would certainly be good news for us, but we already planned on opening the Seoul gallery before hearing the rumours.'
Likewise, Thaddaeus Ropac said, 'We had been planning to open for quite some time and it's not one organisation that would influence our decision to open, but the broader draw of the established art scene in Seoul.'
The notion that Frieze might launch a Seoul fair began gained traction in September last year following a report in Korea's Hankyoreh newspaper. The story posited that Frieze would work with the Korea International Art Fair (KIAF) to host the fair.
In November 2020, KIAF said the story was 'speculative news', while Frieze offered its own non-committal response.
'We are always looking at potential new opportunities and have a great relationship with the Korean galleries, institutions, and collectors,' they told ARTnews. 'Anything is possible, but there's nothing to report at this stage.'
The relationship is apparently moving forward, however, according to comments made on 1 March 2021 by KIAF's organisers.
'We are now in talks with the organisers of the Frieze Art Fair, one of the world's leading art fairs, to invite the fair to Seoul, so that it could be held simultaneously with the KIAF,' Hwang Dal-seung, the head of the Galleries Association of Korea, told Korea JoongAng Daily.
Yesterday, art newsletter The Canvas wrote 'we hear an official announcement is due to be released as soon as tomorrow, if not early next week.'
Frieze did not respond to a request for comment. —[O]