Home Art sale ‘We haven’t sold anything yet’: International art dealers blast organizers of KIAF art fair, say frieze has eclipsed smaller event

‘We haven’t sold anything yet’: International art dealers blast organizers of KIAF art fair, say frieze has eclipsed smaller event


Despite a forceful press release with a long list of gallerists praising KIAF Seoul’s successes, some art dealers say the fair has been largely overshadowed by its counterpart, Frieze.

Several dealers told Artnet News that after KIAF’s five-day run, they were disappointed with the outcome of the event, which fell short of their pre-show expectations regarding the art market boom widely. reported in South Korea and traffic generated by Frieze.

Local Korean galleries generally did well, but some overseas galleries said sales were slow. Some even said that by the end of Monday, the penultimate day of the fair, they still hadn’t sold anything.

KIAF 2022. Photo by KIAF Operating Committee. Courtesy of KIAF.

“No more satellite fairs for us,” art dealer Eduardo Secci, who has galleries in Milan and Florence, told Artnet. “We are impressed with the art scene and the collectors. The gallery base here is stable and the taste is refined. But Frieze has completely taken over the interests of collectors.

“We haven’t sold anything yet,” added Secci, who said he hoped the Frieze raffle would bring more collectors to KIAF.

One reason could be a price mismatch: while most KIAF works ranged from a few thousand dollars to less than $30,000, Secci, which represents artists such as Matthew Ritchie, Enrique Martinez Celaya and Jon Kessler , offered works for much more money.

Wonder Buhle Mbambo, whose work was brought by Secci to Seoul, “has nearly 100 people on the waiting list and the price has already doubled in the secondary market. But because we’re not upstairs, people are always skeptical,” the reseller said, alluding to the fact that Frieze took place right upstairs from KIAF in the COEX room.

Some dealers told Artnet News that even though they were making new introductions, sales were unstable.

“We don’t know if it’s good to have two fairs open on the same day,” said Juan Blasco of London-based Rosenfeld Gallery. “We know there are museums in the area and there are a lot of collectors. The fair is going well. But there is a language barrier.”

Blasco, who presented a solo booth of works by Ndidi Emefieles ranging from $25,000 to $70,000, called the opening day “difficult”.

“That’s what happens when a mega brand comes along, and [Frieze has] does an incredible job of combining quality and exclusivity,” said Secci.

KIAF 2022. Photo by KIAF Operating Committee. Courtesy of KIAF.

A KIAF spokesperson told Artnet News that the concerns will be taken into consideration.

“Looking forward, we continue to gather feedback from our exhibitors and stakeholders to ensure that we maximize our partnership with Frieze Seoul to its greatest potential and deliver an even more successful edition next year,” said said the spokesperson.

KIAF, which is organized by the Galleries Association in Korea and has been in existence since 2002, has capitalized on its association with Frieze, and many international galleries have bought into it. The fair doubled its number of international exhibitors to 60 this year from 2021, and included dealers from 17 countries and regions. Among the 164 galleries, 37 exhibited for the first time.

Still, the total number of visitors to KIAF Seoul and KIAF Plus, its associated satellite fair, was 70,000, according to fair organizers, down more than 20 percent from last year’s attendance. 88,000. (KIAF said last year’s figure included regular visitors, while this year’s figure did not.)

Some dealers have had more success. Dusseldorf and Paris-based Droste Gallery, for example, said it sold its stand, including a painting by Ákos Ezer, for €27,500 ($27,252), while Hyundai Gallery said it brought in a total value sales of ₩4.2 billion ($3 million). .

Yet collectors and observers have wondered if KIAF organizers have found the right strategy. Frieze, it seems, may have benefited far more from their partnership than KIAF.

As one Korean collector who declined to be named said, “KIAF will have to make some changes next year.”

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