Art Busan 2023: Fair Growth Hits a Speed Bump

Source Credit:  Content and images from Ocula Magazine.  Read the original article -

After smashing records in 2021 and 2022, the art fair in Korea’s second city saw more modest activity this year.

Art Busan 2023: Fair Growth Hits a Speed Bump

Art Busan 2023. Courtesy Art Busan.

Art Busan has grown steadily since its launch in 2012. In 2021 it received a record 80,000 visitors. Last year that number rose to over 100,000, surpassing the number of visitors to Kiaf Seoul and Frieze Seoul, which each saw around 70,000 visitors.

Revenues have increased too, rising to ₩60 billion (US $50 million) in 2020 and ₩74.6 billion ($59 million) in 2022.

A spokesperson for the fair said that the number of guests who attended the preview on 4 May was up 24%, but several galleries said they received noticeably fewer visitors and art enquiries.

Wu Wei, Successive Stripes No.4 (2022). Paper on board. 100 x 90 cm.

Wu Wei, Successive Stripes No.4 (2022). Paper on board. 100 x 90 cm. Courtesy Tang Contemporary Art.

Tang Contemporary confirmed that the total number of visitors appeared to have declined, although ‘the number of local clients and buying power seems not to have changed that much.’

The gallery sold works including Chun Kwang Young‘s Aggregation 23-MA030 (2023) for $30,000, Wu Wei‘s furry Stripes-4 (2022) for $170,000, and Woo Kuk Won‘s multimedia painting Village (2023) for $62,000.

Kukje Gallery said their sales were comparable to 2022. Key sales included Ha Chong-Hyun‘s painting Conjunction 22-28 (2022) for $515,000–$580,000 and Alexander Calder‘s gouache and ink on paper Untitled (1971) for $250,000–$300,000.

‘We were pleasantly surprised to see sales rates similar to that of last year and the year before, despite the fact that the art market entered into a downward slope after the pandemic-induced boom in recent years,’ they said.

A New Generation of Korean Collectors?

According to K-Artnow, around half of last year’s buying power at Art Busan came from young collectors—under 45—who showed a particular interest in younger artists, often in their early 40s. These include Lee Heejoon, Jina Park, and Kim Heesoo, among others.

Art Busan said they have seen the trend developing over the past three years, with many younger collectors scheduling a week-long trip to holiday in Busan during the fair.

While these collectors’ tastes may vary, several gallerists shared that many of them prefer younger artists because their works are more affordable compared to older, established artists, and because the collectors can experience growing as collectors alongside artists who are around the same age as them.

In September 2022, the Korea Art Management Service (KAMS) released ‘Analysis of Korean Millennial and Generation Z Art Collectors’, which interviewed more than 1,000 collectors and consulted galleries, auction houses, and art advisors on the younger collectors.

Findings revealed an emerging generation of collectors in South Korea who are digital natives fluent in English. They are enthusiastic in their exploration of works by both Korean and international contemporary artists.

Art Busan has nurtured the demographic by launching Young Collectors Circle in 2021, a programme designed to educate young collectors on buying and maintaining artworks.

Last year, galleries reported that young collectors were more sure of themselves when making a purchase compared to what they saw at the previous edition.

That enthusiasm affected several galleries’ decision to bring more works by younger artists to Art Busan this year. Arario Gallery brought works by younger artists Lee Jinju, Don Sunpil, Lee Jeongbae, and Sim Raejung, while also showing works by Jung Kangja and Choi Byungso, among others.

The Korean press has speculated that a new generation of collectors could add to the private collections that have culturally enriched Korea, such as the late Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee’s collection.

After a relatively quiet Art Busan, however, the arrival of this new generation of mega collectors may need to wait. —[O]

Source Credit:  Content and images from Ocula Magazine.  Read the original article -