Sometimes influence finds you as much as you seek it. Geopolitical shifts far beyond the Kukje Gallery founder’s control have made Seoul a power spot in the Asian artworld. Yet with 40 years under her belt, representing the likes of Lee Ufan (who showed in two of her three Seoul gallery spaces in April), Anish Kapoor (who in August took over all three with his visceral sculptures and paintings) and Haegue Yang (who has long worked with Kukje, showing over the summer at the gallery’s Hanok, a traditional Korean house), Lee is no ingenue. While Park Seo-Bo passed away in October this year, it was Lee who had helped renew interest in his work and the wider Dansaekhwa movement. In Busan, where she has had a gallery since 2018, there were shows for a similar mix of blue-chip names from both the West and East, including Wook-Kyung Choi, Julian Opie and Byron Kim. Not that the glamour of Frieze Seoul did her any harm: when asked, K-pop heartthrob Eric Nam declared Ha Chong-Hyun’s Conjunction 95-011 (1995), a black oil paint on hemp monochrome presented by the gallery, as one of his favourites.
Most influential people in 2023 in the contemporary artworld
Gallerist - Founder of Kukje Gallery in Seoul
92 in 2023