18th edition of Art Paris Art Fair, with a special focus on Korean art



Once again, Art Paris Art Fair has requisitioned Paris’s magnificent Grand Palais where tens of thousands of visitors are expected beneath its luminous glass dome from 31 March to 3 April 2016. With 145 exhibitors from 20 countries, the Fair will present work by several hundred artists and represents an important Spring rendez-vous for aficionados, collectors and enthusiasts of Modern and Contemporary art and design. In 2014 the Fair had a special focus on Chinese art and 2015 gave the to spotlight Singapore and Southeast Asia. This year, the Fair’s director Guillaume Piens has pursued the exploration of the Asian scene with a special focus on Korean art, curated by Sang Chun-A. Works by 70 Korean artists will be shown by galleries from Seoul, Daigu and Paju-Si, as well as by a score of Western galleries.

This programme — coinciding as it does with celebrations marking the 130th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Paris and Seoul — is also timely because Korean art is currently much in demand. This has been particularly visible in Hong Kong where Kwon Young-woo reached a new auction record at $96,750 with a large abstract drawing (November 2015) and Sang-Hwa CHUNG came close to the million threshold with a new record at $967,500 (5 October 2015 at Seoul Auction). Indeed, works by a number of excellent Korean artists with established market appeal will be available at Art Paris Art Fair, including Chang-Sup CHUNG (Park Ryu Sook Gallery) who fetched $141,900 in Hong Kong in October 2015, and Seo-Bo PARK (Shilla Gallery) who crossed the million-dollar threshold for the first time on 28 November when Writing No.65-75 fetched $1.212 million at Christie’s. There will also be works by Whan-Ki KIM (Sabine Vazieux Gallery), whose auction record stands at no less than $3.9 million since 5 October (Seoul Auction), and Ungno LEE (1904-1989), an important figure in the fusion of Korean, Chinese and Western influences (Thessa Herold Gallery). A painter, sculptor, printmaker, draftsman and calligrapher, Ung No Lee studied art in Tokyo before moving to France where he lived for the rest of his life. Considered a pioneer of Contemporary Korean art, his works have been acquired by a number of major institutions including the MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in Rome and the Museum of Fine Arts in Tokyo.

One of the main beneficiaries of recent demand for Korean art has been the abstract Dansaekhwa or Monochrome movement which represented a dynamic counterpoint to the major European and American Abstract movements in the second half of the 20th century. The Dansaekhwa artists developed a capacity to work in an ‘empty’, meditative state in order to produce works reflecting man’s place in nature and the universe. At Art Paris Art Fair the primary representatives of the Dansaekhwa movement will be Myeun Ro YOUN and Ufan LEE. Lee Ufan is the best-known artist in the West. His works have recently been exhibited in Europe and in 2014 he enjoyed a major exhibition at the Château de Versailles. Today, he is one of the few Korean artists whose works sell in France (40% of his auction turnover since 2000) and in New York, but also in Germany, Italy, England and Spain as well as on Asian markets (South Korea, Japan, China and Singapore). Works by Lee Ufan will be available at the stands of the Rabouan Moussion Gallery and the Omer Tiroche Gallery.

Art Paris Art Fair will also host works by the famous Tschang Yeul Kim (Park Ryu Sook Gallery), Lee Bae and Bae Bien-U (RX Gallery); Jin Woo Lee (Maria Lund Gallery), Chul-Hyun Ahn and Bahk Seon-Ghi (Paris-Beijing gallery ART PROJECT and 313) as well as some surprising sculptures by Yi Hwan-kwon (Gana Art) whose distorted figures have already fetched over $100,000 at auctions.

By specialising on Asian art, Art Paris Art Fair has established its specificity in the now crowded world of art fairs, while remaining firmly committed to the major trends in the current market. In addition, the Fair provides a great opportunity to make discoveries as Guillaume Piens likes to give new galleries a chance each year. This year, half of the exhibitors will be making their debut at the Grand Palais.