in Frieze Seoul , News | 08 SEP 23

Sohl Lee's Top Picks from Frieze Seoul Viewing Room 2023

The art historian and author of Reimagining Democracy recommends five favorites including works by Otobong Nkanga, Lee Bul and Adrian Villar Rojas

in Frieze Seoul , News | 08 SEP 23


Altered Life, 2023

Woven textile on aluminium frame

66.93" x 35.43" x 1.57" (170 cm x 90 cm x 4 cm)

Presented by Lisson Gallery

a woven textile on aluminum frame depicting a scene of the underworld
Otobong Nkanga, Altered Life, 2023. Image courtesy Gallery Lisson

"In the words of artist Otobong Nkanga, 'caring is a form of resistance.' And I might add persistence and diligence to the scaffolds that support the work of caring manifest in this research-driven artist’s manifold practices. Standing before Altered Life, we feel stories of the land, non-human lives of the underwater, people of the underworld, and our imaginations for another world—altogether come alive on the woven textile, where layers of threads collapse into the depth of historical research and the resounding affect therein."


Untitled, 1968 

Paint on paper

24.61" x 18.9" (62.5 cm x 48 cm)

Presented by Tina Kim Gallery

a group of well-dressed people in bold colors, abstracted
Wook-kyung Choi, Untitled, 1968. Image courtesy of the artist's estate and Tina Kim Gallery. Photo by Hyunjung Rhee

"In structure and gesture, the paint fights the support while dancing on it. The rare female abstract painter hailing from South Korea, Wook-kyung Choi finally had her first major retrospective at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) in 2021, more than 35 years after her premature death at age 45."


Perdu CLXXIX, 2023 

Mother-of-pearl, acrylic paint on wooden base panel, stainless steel frame 

62.99" x 43.31" x 2.36" (160 cm x 110 cm x 6 cm) 

Presented by Thaddaeus Ropac

abstract in peach yellow and greens with swirls
Lee Bul, Perdu CLXXIX, 2023. Mother-of-pearl, acrylic paint on wooden base panel, stainless steel frame. Image 160 x 110 x 6 cm. © Lee Bul. Courtesy Thaddaeus Ropac gallery, London • Paris • Salzburg • Seoul. Photo: Jeon Byung- cheol. 

"Having launched her spectacular career amid the late 1980s postmodern turn in South Korea with scene-shattering performances and tentacled bodysuits, Lee Bul reinvents her practices every 5-10 years, each time with conceptually provocative and visually expansive works. The mother-of-pearl sparks, while offering a glimpse into Lee’s lasting interests in shimmery, glittery materials. It jazzes with acrylic paint that feels both asphyxiating and liberating."


Untitled 17. From the series "The End of Imagination", 2023 

Live simulations of active digital ecologies, and layered composites of organic, inorganic, human, and machine-made matter

H: 71,5 x W: 55 x L: 59 cm

Presented by Kurimanzutto

a spider-like 3D printed sculpture
Adrian Villar Rojas, UNTITLED 20 FROM THE SERIES THE END OF IMAGINATION, 2023. Live simulations of active digital ecologies, and layered composites of organic, inorganic, human, and machine-made matter. H: 71,5 x W: 55 x L: 59 cm. Image courtesy of Kurimanzutto

"What does it mean to engage with the human and non-human environments in the age of climate catastrophe and machine learning? Adrián Villar Rojas’s variegated practices seem to probe this question. The visually titillating and fantastically gruesome object offers such an inquiry, but no clear answer."


Smoking - contact print, 1976 

contact print 

7.91" x 6.5" (20.1 cm x 16.5 cm) 

Presented by Lehmann Maupin

a contact sheet of multiple images in which a man is smoking
SUNG NEUNG KYUNG, Smoking - contact print, 1976. Contact print, 7.91 x 6.5 inches (20.1 x 16.5 cm). © Sung Neung Kyung. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London

"A conceptually-oriented artist active since the early 1970s, Neung Kyung Sung makes photographic documentation of his performances. Some of the early works are presented at the exhibition Only the Young: Experimental Art in Korea, 1960s–1970s, currently on its US tour. While the photographs index the multiple actions that make up each performative event, the contact prints are unique in tracing the marks that expose how the artist edits, selects, and curates the documentation of his performance. The marks made with marker pens also anticipate his intervention into duplicated press photographs in the 'Venue' series."

About Sohl Lee

A woman with her hair tied back in a bun stands against a graphic black and white background
Sohl Lee. Photograph by E. Park

Sohl Lee, PhD is an art historian specializing in global contemporary art and an Associate Professor in the Department of Art at the State University of New York (SUNY), Stony Brook. Her book Reimagining Democracy, forthcoming from Duke University Press, traces the multifaceted process by which a particular decolonial aesthetics of politics emerged during South Korea’s democratization. Her current research projects include Buddhist modernism across the world, the Afro-Asian circulation of North Korean art and visual culture, and the global ocean aesthetics. A seaweed aficionado, Sohl enjoyed participating in Flavors of the Sea, a performance by ikkibawiKrrr at 2023 Frieze Seoul. 


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