With fashion and art galore, Hannam-dong is emerging as a cultural hub
A new gallery Foundry Seoul and a new, larger space at the Seoul branch of the famous Pace Gallery, as well as a new flagship store for Italian luxury fashion brand Gucci, have each opened in Hannam-dong, in central Seoul, over the past few weeks, solidifying the region’s status as one of Seoul’s cultural hubs, especially for art and fashion.
Foundry Seoul, which officially opens on Friday, unveiled its inaugural exhibitions to the press on Tuesday – a solo exhibition by young Berlin abstract painter Henning Strassburger and an exhibition by fashion designer duo KANGHYUK made up of Choi Kang-hyuk and Shon Sang- lak.
According to Park Se-jin, curator of the exhibitions, Strassburger creates his abstract paintings using complicated procedures, including projecting his digital drawings onto a canvas and then painting the projected images by hand. It also uses color schemes inspired by the industrial CMYK color spectrum used for printing technology. “In this way, he explores the possibility of painting in the age of digital images,” Park said.
The gallery is a newly established art trading subsidiary of Busan-based industrial pipe fitting maker TK Corporation, which also owns the building where Gucci opened its second flagship store in Korea called Gucci Gaok on May 28. The gallery is also located in the building, but is barely visible from the street as it is located on the lower two floors of the basement.
Still, the building is very artistic, as Gucci commissioned Korean artist Park Seung-mo, whose works appeared in the Oscar-winning film “Parasite” (2019), to decorate its facade. The work of a pine forest is made up of layers of stainless steel mesh to offer different views depending on the light, the viewer’s angle and the distance.
It is rare in Korea for a non-art company to set up a subsidiary for the art trade, while it is common for such a company to set up a museum as part of its art patronage. Asked about it, Chloe Yoon, managing director of the new gallery and daughter of TK CEO Yoon Sung-duk, said, “We believe that it is also important and a more practical form of art sponsorship to discover young or less well-known artists and help they work in a good environment and sell their works at decent prices. Therefore, we chose to establish a gallery instead of a museum.
Meanwhile, the Pace Gallery opened a solo exhibition of famous American artist Sam Gilliam on May 27 as the inaugural exhibit in its new space on the second and third floors of the Le Beige building near Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, in Hannam-dong. When the exhibit wraps up on July 10, it will travel to Pace’s space in the H Queen’s Building in Hong Kong. This suggests a change in the status of the Korean art market, which was previously considered to be much smaller than Hong Kong.
The exhibition features nine new pieces of so-called “beveled-edged abstract paintings” that Gilliam has been developing steadily since the 1960s. Inspired by mid-20th century abstract expressionism and American jazz music, he has creates thick-textured paintings with understated shine and delicately changing colors and tones, which “seem to float away from the wall, thanks to the bevelled-edged frames.” “said Rhee Ruri, director of the Pace Seoul gallery.
“Gilliam’s approach to abstract expression is deep and energetic, often involving folding, soaking, and dyeing the canvas before applying thick coats of paint mixed with materials such as pure pigments, sawdust, tin shot and other rubbish from the studio floor, ”Pace writes on his website. “Using rakes, steel brushes and other tools, Gilliam then exposes layers of brilliant color underneath like fire breaking through volcanic ash.”
The hemp canvas sliding screens installed in front of certain windows and glass doors of the new space harmonize with the paintings. “We invited architect Cho Minsuk from Mass Studies, who designed the entire building, to renovate the interior floors for our new space and include traditional Korean elements,” Rhee explained.
Meanwhile, Hannam-dong, which includes the streets commonly known as Itaewon, has gradually become a major art area in Seoul since the opening of the Leeum, the Samsung Museum of Art, in 2004.
Now in the area is the Hyundai Card Company Music Library and Storage Art Center; Gana Art Sounds and Gana Art NineOne, which are branches of Gana Art, one of Korea’s largest galleries; the Amado alternative art space; the Baton Gallery which is considered to be one of the strongest young galleries; and the art exhibition spaces of the Blue Square Musical Theater.
In addition, BHAK Gallery, a gallery with a 28-year history, and ThisWeekendRoom, a young art space that sits between a gallery and a collective, both moved to Hannam-dong from Cheongdam-dong in Gangnam to late last year and early this year.
There are also flagship stores of fashion brands such as KUHO, Comme des Garçons and Kolon’s Series Corner, which occasionally hold small art exhibitions.
Adding to Hannam-dong’s vitality, Leeum, which has been practically dormant since 2017, will reopen this year when its ongoing renovation is complete, according to its representatives. Leeum has refrained from special exhibits since Samsung Group chairman Lee Jae-yong was arrested in 2017 on corruption charges and other offenses in the scandal that led to the impeachment of former chairman Park Geun-hye , then temporarily closed its doors last year due to the pandemic.
Art insiders say that Hannam-dong is located between two important art areas north and south of the Han River – Samcheong-dong and Cheongdam-dong, so it’s easy to attract collectors from both regions. In addition, the district has fashion and design shops as well as restaurants and cafes that will appeal to the so-called MZ generation, or those born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s, who have become important new players. in the art market. .
BY MOON SO-YOUNG [[email protected]]