Seoul (AFP) – The art world landed in Seoul this week for the inaugural edition of Frieze in Asia, as the vibrant South Korean capital looks to position itself as the region’s next art hub.
Previous Frieze fairs have been held in traditional art capitals like London, Paris and New York, but industry experts say Seoul was a natural pick for the first Asian edition of the prestigious event.
South Korea has emerged as a cultural powerhouse in recent years with the global success of the Oscar-winning film “Parasite” and the Netflix series “Squid Game”, and with K-pop superstars BTS sweeping the Billboard music charts.
“Frieze looks to cities where there is a vast appreciation of culture,” Patrick Lee, the inaugural director of Frieze Seoul, told AFP.
Seoul boasts a rich art scene, he added, with “incredibly talented artists, world-class museums, corporate collections, non-profits, biennales and galleries, which make it an ideal location for an art fair”.
The fair also takes place at a time when the art world is turning away from Hong Kong — long considered the hub of the lucrative Asian art market — over looming financial and political uncertainties, as well as quarantine restrictions still imposed on visitors.
“Seoul is definitely the most vibrant and exciting market in Asia for now,” said Alice Lung, director of Galerie Perrotin, which opened its second Seoul gallery last month.
Tim Schneider, art business editor of Artnet News, said the openings by major Western galleries like Pace, Lehmann Maupin, Perrotin and Thaddaeus Ropac, followed by Frieze, confirmed that Seoul had “levelled up” on the international art stage.
“Frieze Seoul is just the final confirmation that the demand has been here,” he told AFP.
The local art market has seen explosive growth since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, with local art fairs seeing record foot traffic and sales figures last year.
“When the borders were closed for a while, people focused on online viewing,” Lung of Galerie Perrotin told AFP.
“This helped Korean artists and galleries grow faster without any physical limitation, bringing in new collectors,” especially millennials and Generation Z, she said.
During this time, skyrocketing housing prices prompted many young South Koreans to seek alternate investment options, such as stocks, cryptocurrency and, for some, artworks.
“Many young people tasted bitter losses from stock and crypto investments and artwork appeared a safe bet, especially after high-profile success cases,” said Hwang Dal-seung, president of the Galleries Association of Korea.
The late Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee left a trove of antiques and artworks — including works by Claude Monet, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso — reportedly worth two to three trillion won ($1.5-2.2 billion) which had soared in value during his decades-long ownership, Hwang added.
Schneider said South Korea was a “microcosm of Asia” in terms of the rise of collectors born after 1980, who now exercise heavy influence on the market.
“Buyers from this age group and this region have been reshaping the hierarchy of which artists are most in demand internationally, as well as significantly ramping up the speed at which artists can transition from the emerging level to blue-chip prices and global fame,” he added.
The country’s art market was estimated to be worth around 532.9 billion won in the first half of 2022, according to a July report from the state-run Korea Arts Administration Service — more than the whole of 2021.
Thaddaeus Ropac, who opened his Seoul gallery last year, said South Korea offered a balanced demographic of collectors.
“You have very established collectors who are not too young anymore and who have incredible experience and who collect art for 30 years or 40 years and you see the results, which I think is quite astonishing in its quality,” Ropac told AFP.
“But then you also feel a very fresh new approach to art” from younger collectors, he added.
The Austrian gallerist, who began working with South Korean artists nearly two decades ago, said the country’s art scene — artists, curators, collectors — had been “built for generations”.
The arrival of Frieze Seoul would certainly open new doors for South Korea’s art market, he said, but it was “also a result of what Seoul has become”.
Schneider added: “Historically, anytime a grade-A international fair sets up shop in a new city, it simultaneously confirms that the art-market infrastructure there is sustainable.”
But he dismissed framing Seoul’s rise in terms of Hong Kong’s potential fall.
“I think it’s misguided to act as if Asia –– a massive continent composed of numerous countries with unique cultural histories and tremendous wealth –– can’t support two legitimate art-market hubs,” he said.
© 2022 AFP
The art of reviews | The Journal – Queen's Journal
It’s easy for us to criticize art.
Identifying a film’s flaws or a novel’s shortcomings is satisfying and fun. It’s also something we do subconsciously whenever we interact with art.
We become, for a moment, the dreary, pretentious critic from Ratatouille, ruthlessly picking apart loose plot threads or weak technique. It’s an intimate conversation between art and audience.
Critiques, then, are vital to our relationship with art. Reviewing films, shows, or books forces us to immerse ourselves in them—it’s a quiet act of introspection, one which is inherently personal.
Of course, these reviews we concoct for ourselves differ from what we might find in a larger publication. Yet the fact remains: reviewing art is essential to understanding it.
Reviews are wonderful in a practical sense.
Want to know if the new Marvel movie sucks infinity stones? Check online, read a few reviews, and you’ve got a pretty good idea if it’s worth your time and money.
So, movie reviews, for instance, can have profound impacts on the film market. Droves of five-star reviews do wonders for business; they help ensure that technically proficient art is adequately financially compensated.
Additionally, reviews make art more accessible.
For instance, if you’ve read Ulysses and wondered what any of it meant, a thorough review can distill the novel’s thematic importance into an easy-to-digest article. These critiques allow us to engage more effectively with what art is trying to tell us.
Since reviews are so ubiquitous, they’re closely attached to how we experience art. Imagine if there were no reviews for Morbius—not a single one. What would we think about it?
When we hear negative feedback about art before interacting with it, we’re predisposed to dislike it. When you hear “this superhero vampire movie sucks,” you’ll probably think Morbius is really bad before you even see it. Reviews allow us to form opinions on movies we’ve never seen or books we’ve never read.
Regardless, we need artistic discourse. Discussing art is essential to forming our opinions about it and how we relate to it, and online reviews are an incredible way of bringing everyone into the conversation. Contemporary reviews rid artistic dialogue of academic jargon to make art criticism accessible for everyone.
But what’s so profound about reviews is their human aspect. They are, regardless of impartiality, coloured by an individual’s response to a piece of art.
When we review something or we read someone else’s review, we’re seeing the result of personal reflection on the merits of art. Reviews expose us to diverse interpretations and meanings which ultimately hone our own opinion on a piece of art.
Criticizing things doesn’t have to be pretentious. Reviews are a fantastic means to offer opinions on art in a way that’s accessible to everyone—and now, with platforms like IMDB and Goodreads, we can all be critics.
Reviews, whether written for money or just because you like a book a lot, are vital to breathing life into art. They’re an alternative to academic criticism that are also just fun.
Most of all, reviews incite vivid conversations about art and why it’s important. These dialogues are necessary—without them, art becomes sterile and trivial.
Nothing can exist in a vacuum. Not even art.
Memorial Art Sculpture Unveiled in Tribute to Survivors of Residential Schools – Net Newsledger
WINNIPEG – INDIGENOUS – Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre unveiled the Memorial Art Sculpture at the Gathering Place for Truth and Reconciliation (445 King Street) on Friday during Orange Shirt Day.
The artwork created by Irvin Head, the main focus of the Memorial Art Sculpture is a large Turtle. The work is a tribute piece in response to “Every Child Matters” as a reminder of 94 calls to action towards reconciliation. The work also represents the Turtle’s offspring of 7 generations of Indigenous children that will lead and carry the knowledge and ways of knowing through prayer and medicine offered through the smudging ceremony and prayer to the ancestors and the Indigenous children and families of residential school survivors.
“We are thrilled to unveil the completed memorial art installation, as the concept was originally presented to the community at the 2021 event. This piece was designed and created by artist Irvin Head from Cranberry Portage, Manitoba. Unfortunately, Irvin fell ill in the last few months of working on the piece and has since passed on to the spirit world before it could be completed. He did, however, have many family and community members as well as other artists who were able to continue the project and carry on his legacy.” – Kathleen McKenzie, Supporting Event Coordinator
The piece also features:
- Footprints of children’s moccasins leading the way around the base of the carving, and up the back toward the smudge bowl
- 13 panels on the Turtle’s back representing the 13 moon cycles
- The Turtle is surrounded by her offspring of smaller turtles that are following her teachings. The one Turtle on her back is appearing to disguise itself as a shell panel, representing the constant connection and inherited bloodline connection to the mother.
- The bear paw is a common symbol used within Irvin’s carvings. The bear in Cree culture stands for courage. Irvin created many bear carvings. It was a common theme and subject in his work. A mama bear and her cubs also made themselves present the same day as Irvin’s celebration of life.
- There is an indented concave panel at the top of the turtle designed to be directly used as a smudge bowl or for a smudge bowl to sit on top. This feature is subtle, allowing for different individuals to place their own smudge bowl, no matter the size, within and on that space, depending on the individuals preference.
The inspiration for the art piece began in September 2021, when the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre embarked on a journey of Truth and Reconciliation. A call to action was sent to schools and youth in Manitoba to send in tobacco ties with handwritten messages describing what Every Child Matters means to them. In response, more than 500 handwritten messages and tobacco ties were received from youth around the province.
On September 30th, 2021, a community event was held to honour the found children of Canada’s Residential Schools. The event was hosted at our Gathering Place for Truth and Reconciliation with more than 125 community members and youth involved. A Sacred Fire was held to offer the tobacco ties that were submitted by the youth. The handwritten messages were saved and kept as inspiration for the Memorial Art Sculpture. In addition, the messages were made into decals that have been placed on the windows at the Gathering Place for Truth and Reconciliation located at 445 King Street.
“I want to thank Irvin, Lisa and family for including in me in the completion of Irvin’s vision for this very special carving. Thank you Irvin and George Nadeau for all your hard work. Thank you to everyone who helped complete and polish the piece when I was finished my part. It is and has been an absolute honour,” shared Lucas.
FAS considering suspension of fine arts program – Queen's Journal
The Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) is initiating a consultative process to consider the temporary suspension of admissions to the Bachelor of Fine Arts/Visual Arts (BFA/VA) program.
As it stands, the program is not suspended going into the next Cyclical Program Review (CPR) in 2023. The CPR process is a quality assurance process requiring each academic program to be reviewed once every eight years.
“The Dean of the [FAS] recently shared some information at Faculty Board that the Faculty is initiating a consultative process to consider the temporary suspension of admissions to the Bachelor of Fine Art/Visual Art program, following defined Senate procedures,” Warren Mabee, interim director of fine art (visual art) said in a statement to The Journal.
According to Mabee, the recommendation to consider the suspension of the program came from himself and John Pierce, vice-provost (teaching and learning). The consultative process is expected to begin in mid-October and run into November.
“Students currently enrolled in the BFA/VA can be assured that the courses and instructors in the program will continue to be supported and their progress to degree completion will not be impacted,” Mabee said.
In the 2016 CPR report, three options were brought up for the BFA/VA program.
The first option involved refining the current BFA/VA program, while the second was moving away from the conservatory-style fine arts program. The final option was to discontinue a focused BFA/VA program. After the CPR, most of the work was focused on the first option of refinement of the program.
The University explained that while progress was made, there wasn’t a clear direction identified to revitalizing the BFA/VA program.
For students like Abby Gowland, BFA ’22, the program has offered her life changing opportunities and networking abilities. She said the BFA program is what inspires her to apply to MFA programs in printmaking.
Gowland told The Journal in an interview an invitation was sent to everyone in the department to discuss the potential of a temporary suspension in program admissions.
She believes the program was not given the adequate resources following the last CPR. Gowland is concerned students applying this year will be apprehensive due to the potential of admissions suspension.
“We’ve kind of been put on the back burner, because we’re such a small program […] Now the next CPR is coming up, there is a frantic effort to figure out what they’re going to do,” Gowland said.
“That’s why they’re putting off admissions for this upcoming year—there would be a quarter less students in our building and it would have a huge effect.”
Gowland said in the meeting there was mention of moving the fine arts program to buildings across campus, away from Ontario Hall, where the program currently resides.
“Fine art is literally just community networking and having other people to work with who inspire you—it’s basically what fine art is,” Gowland said.
The BFA/VA program focuses on more traditional aspects of art.
According to Gowland, this was something that drew her into the program at Queen’s over other offerings at other institutions like OCAD.
The Co-Presidents of the Fine Arts DSC, Claire Dobbie and Lauren Russo expressed disappointment with the potential of a suspension in admissions.
“The Dean [Barbara Crow] feels the program is not up to par, and that we should go on a one-year suspension so that the program can be fixed before the CPR […] If we pause admissions, then the CPR doesn’t have to happen right away, which means we don’t look bad right away,” Dobbie said in an interview with The Journal.
“We are disappointed at the quickness of wanting to just take a freeze. The concerns have come out of neglect for the fine arts program. We’ve had the option to fix these things over the past 10 years,” Russo said.
Russo added the undergraduate chair has put in significant effort and is having a difficult time getting answers from the FAS.
Both presidents said there was frustration in a lack of representation of their department’s views being represented, particularly since a mediator was being brought in—their concern is the lack of representation from an arts background.
“You don’t have first-hand experience at how this kind of stuff works and how important certain aspects of the program are,” Dobbie said.
Both presidents expressed they had challenges communicating with the head of the department, describing communication as “filtered.”
“The head of our program [Warren Mabee] does not come from an arts background—he’s a nice guy—he tries to be as neutral as possible, but we need someone to fight for us and nobody’s fighting for us,” Russo added.
Dobbie said the department needs the CPR to happen, otherwise she believes issues will not be addressed properly.
“If we have the CPR that at least somebody’s telling us, we have to fix them,” she said.
A principal concern Russo laid out was the lack of tenured teaching staff, and the use of adjuncts to fill positions once faculty retired.
“We’ve had four tenured professors retire with zero replacements, which has left us with one full time tenured professor and one half time tenured professor—the third is on sabbatical and will retire in three years,” Russo said.
“We have been starved in the program with no resources. Our choices for professors are really tiny. We used to have a lot more resources, there’s been no effort to be made to keep the program running appropriately.”
Another concern Russo and Dobbie have is around the lowering of admissions numbers for the class of 2026 without any consultation.
This is combined with their desire to have the program departmentalized instead of the current floating model—they said a potential home could be the Art History Department.
In a statement to The Journal, Department Head of Art History, Norman Vorano said he is eager to work with the FAS Dean, the BFA/VA program, and students.
“Given our longstanding and close ties, a significant number of our students in the Department of Art History and Art Conservation come from the BFA/VA program,” Vorano said.
“We are obviously very concerned by the prospect of a temporary suspension and the impact this might have in our classrooms. The BFA students are amazing and enrich our campus immensely.”
Vorano said fine arts are essential for the development of Canadian society as a whole. Vorano said it’s more important than ever to not lose sight of the importance of fine arts education.
“This is not only important for Canada’s growing creative economy, but of vital importance as we advance our social development goals and build a more inclusive, just society. Visual artists have always been at the centre of societal changes.”
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