The Two Galleries from Africa to Watch at Frieze Seoul 2023

Frieze Seoul 2023

In the vibrant setting of Frieze Seoul 2023, which opened with a VIP preview on September 6 and continues until September 9 at the iconic COEX exhibition center in Seoul, more than 120 galleries from around the world have gathered to unveil their most exquisite artistic treasures. This year’s edition features an expanded lineup, introducing Frieze Film, Talks, and the inaugural Frieze Music, solidifying its position on the global arts calendar. Running concurrently with the Korea International Art Fair (Kiaf) and the inaugural Seoul Art Week, this cultural extravaganza saturates the city with exhibitions and four nights of captivating talks and events across various neighborhoods.

In this dynamic creative landscape, the spotlight is firmly trained on two African galleries, Gallery 1957 and Goodman Gallery. With their carefully curated selections of artists, these galleries have emerged as captivating focal points, beckoning visitors to embark on a profound journey into the world of contemporary African art. Their presence underscores the global recognition of Africa’s art scene and its pivotal role in shaping the international art landscape. The artistic dialogues ignited by these African talents at Frieze Seoul promise to resonate far beyond the fair’s confines, leaving an indelible mark on the global art stage.

Gallery 1957

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Gallery 1957, with its roots in Accra and London, is making an eagerly awaited debut in the vibrant Seoul art scene. Nestled at Booth A8, this exhibition space has been transformed into a veritable treasure trove of West African creativity. The gallery’s showcase is an impressive ensemble of established and emerging artists, each presenting their unique perspective on contemporary African art.

Artists Presented by Gallery 1957:

  • Amoako Boafo
  • Gideon Appah
  • Kwesi Botchway
  • Joana Choumali
  • Tegene Kunbi
  • Kaloki Nyamai
  • Nadia Waheed

In an interview, Marwan Zakhem, the gallery’s founder, expressed his vision for the booth, stating, “We wanted it to be bold, and to be a little bit different, and that’s the kind of response that we’re getting from people.”

The booth features a diverse array of artworks, from a spirited Amoako Boafo painting capturing a tennis player in action to a vibrant geometric composition by Tegene Kunbi. This eclectic mix brings together established names like Gideon Appah and emerging talents like Joana Choumali, highlighting the gallery’s commitment to showcasing the breadth and diversity of West African artistic expression.

One of the standout pieces at Gallery 1957’s booth is Amoako Boafo’s “White Overgrip (2023),” a striking portrayal of a person engrossed in a game of tennis. This painting not only showcases Boafo’s remarkable talent but also serves as a testament to Gallery 1957’s mission of bringing West African artists to the world.

Goodman Gallery

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Goodman Gallery, a renowned institution for contemporary art from or related to the Global South, has curated an exceptional selection of leading artists and emerging talents. Their booth, located at C6, is a powerful exploration of the intricate interplay between local and diasporic experiences and their geopolitical significance.

Artists Presented by Goodman Gallery:

  • Kudzanai Chiurai
  • Nolan Oswald Dennis
  • Leonardo Drew
  • Nicholas Hlobo
  • Remy Jungerman
  • William Kentridge
  • Misheck Masamvu
  • Cassi Namoda
  • Yinka Shonibare CBE RA

In this diverse lineup of artists, Kudzanai Chiurai delves profoundly into philosophical narratives, reflecting on the consequences of capitalism in contemporary Zimbabwe. Likewise, Nolan Oswald Dennis illuminates the intricate subtleties of the ‘black-earth-system’, drawing connections between oppressive power structures and spatial politics.

Leonardo Drew stands out with his compelling installations and sculptures, which artfully blur the distinctions between order and chaos. His masterpieces mirror the appearance of bustling cities or evolving organic entities, prompting contemplations on the ever-changing nature of our world.

Yet, the showcase is far from over. William Kentridge, celebrated globally for his multifaceted artistic expressions spanning drawings, films, and theater, introduces us to evocative pieces like “Sibyl, 2020” and “Oak Leaf, 2021.” Kentridge’s oeuvre probes the intricate layers of British colonial history and its resonance in today’s society.

Misheck Masamvu’s expressionist strokes paint a canvas of chaotic landscapes, skillfully balancing vulnerability with abstraction. In contrast, Cassi Namoda offers a fresh lens on post-colonial Africa. Yinka Shonibare CBE RA adeptly melds British colonial narratives with the rich tapestry of African traditions.

Concluding the lineup, Remy Jungerman presents an engaging journey into the patterns and symbols of Surinamese Maroon culture and the expansive African diaspora. His work fosters a captivating dialogue that bridges traditional roots with contemporary insights.

Gallery 1957 and Goodman Gallery, through their thought-provoking presentations, offer a unique opportunity for Frieze Seoul 2023 visitors to engage with contemporary African art that challenges, inspires, and celebrates the diverse narratives of the African continent. These galleries are emblematic of the growing global recognition of the African art scene and its significant contributions to the international art landscape. As Frieze Seoul continues to unfold, the artistic dialogues sparked by these African talents promise to resonate far beyond the fair’s confines.

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