Wednesday, September 28, 2011

KIAF 2011

You wouldn't know there were so many galleries in Korea until you stepped into the Korean International Art Fair.  Dozens of galleries representing Korean artists were set up at the festival along with many more from other nations. I have been to the KIAF a few times in the past (here and here) and each time it felt like a different experience.

Since I didn't attend last year's I was really looking forward to going. What I expect when I go is to see a variety of art from around Asia, and to have a good time mingling amongst art enthusiasts. 

However, after I entered the exhibition hall for some reason my excitement fell flat. Maybe it was because there were a lot of people already there at 11am (unlike in 2009). Or perhaps I just had a feeling things had changed.
Thankfully, my first reaction started to melt away as I looked through the galleries. Immediately I was impressed at the amount of sculpture within the spaces.


Do forgive me for not providing the artist's names. I know I should have written them down as I photographed them.


Yet, I did try to photograph the name with the object. I found these sculptures particularly enjoyable as the shadows were quite nice.

If you are wondering whether photography was allowed, well everyone was practically doing it and with their iPhones. Some gallery owners would go up to you and request no photos. I kindly deleted the pictures from ones that did this.

Some galleries had wall hangings of famous Asian artists that I recognized like Yayoi Kusama, Yoshitomo Nara and Lee U Fan. I did feel gleeful standing in front of them and examining them close up.




 Video art was presented, although rather scant. The following one was a stop-motion of plastic soldiers messing around near a bed of kimchi.

I always have a fondness for this kind of Japanese painting, mostly because I just love the absurdity of the content.

In the following works it appeared that glass mini-blobs were affixed to the painting. The little pearl of lights that resonated from them were quite appealing. What I noticed too, after standing there a while, was how the movement of people were reflected in these little drops. I wanted to capture it on video but should have brought my monopod.


The whimsical was there to be seen as well, especially in the following sushi-trucks and a large sculptural piece made from go-stop cards.



The following sculpture was quite fun to photograph...

Every year the KIAF hosts a guest country and this time it was Australia. However, as much as I enjoyed stepping into their space and getting a sense for Australian art it didn't have the same vibe as year's past.

I recall when India was being hosted they set them up with one large space and not segmented walls. This time Australia got their own space but things were still segmented. I would have rather enjoyed it put together in a context of some sort.

One Australian gallery had the following sound-art piece. The digital display was a rendering of a wave, while the speakers played real ocean-wave audio. I mostly enjoyed the craftsmanship of this piece, as I have tried sound art in the past.


The following is a sculpture made from mirrors and had a great reflective quality to it.


There are 2 halls at the COEX convention center that housed the KIAF, hall A and B. When I went into Hall B I was greeted by a large section dedicated to some cafes. 
I took a seat at one of the tables at the corner and enjoyed some rest. Although I didn't buy anything I felt safe sitting there. Then a Korean woman sat down at my table with a nod first. A little while later two of her friends came by and she called them over, they did have cafe stuff with them. They engulfed my table like I wasn't even there. I made a sour face and got up, while the original woman said, "Sorry" in quite an insincere way. I huffingly moved myself to another free table, while sitting down and giving them the stink eye.

This experience completely ruined my visit. I didn't have the passion to see the rest of the exhibitions and so left. However, there were personal matters also overshadowing this so maybe that is the main reason.

All together, the festival was a delight and something I might try out again next year. Unfortunately if you folks want to catch it the venue is already over. So I would suggest heading to local galleries and checking this out in 2012.

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