Failed application, failed bid, Seoul Auction, scandal in Hong Kong… Korea was left out

“After the tide recedes, it will be revealed who has been swimming naked all this time.”

Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, sent an email to investors in 2001 with this message. When the stock market is good, the stock prices of all companies rise, so companies with no skills can hide, but when the bubble bursts, the bare faces of companies with weak ‘basic stamina’ are sure to be exposed.

In Hong Kong, ‘the center of the Asian art market’, Korean works are now being evaluated in this way. This scene was created at the ‘Seoul Auction Hong Kong Auction’ held simultaneously at the Hong Kong Grand Hyatt Hotel and Seoul Auction Gangnam Center on the 29th.

The ‘big hands’ of Hong Kong competing for the ‘Green Pumpkin’ of the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (92) remained silent when the Korean work went up for auction. Until last year, the masterpieces of ‘Korea’s national representative painters’ such as Yun Hyung-geun, Lee U-hwan, and Ha Jong-hyun, who had been unable to sell due to their unavailability, were sold one after another. .

○ Art market landing hard in Korea only

Even at the beginning of this year, experts were predicting that the global art market would collapse rapidly after reaching the peak of last year, which was an unprecedented ‘fire market’ (hot as fire market). However, the site of Christie’s Hong Kong autumn auction held on this day put these expectations to shame. This is because all of the major works released on the day, including antique Chinese furniture and antique art pieces, were all sold out.

However, on the same day, the tone of the Seoul Auction Hong Kong auction was completely opposite. Although it has beaten the Hong Kong market in two years due to Corona 19, the successful application rate was only 65% ​​(50 out of 84 successful applications). This is much lower than the average successful bid rate (79%) last year. This is because Hong Kong collectors did not pay attention to the works of Korean artists. They ignored works by artists such as Woo Kook-won and Kim Seon-woo, whose prices rose higher than expected last year, as well as works by masters such as Kim Hwan-ki, Park Seo-bo, and Ha Jong- hyun. In terms of works by Korean artists they took with them, Shim Moon-seop (140 million won), Jung Yong-ju (62 million won), and Seo Do-ho (60 million won) only had three works win).

On the other hand, several foreign artists such as ‘Pumpkin’ Kusama (6.42 billion, based on the winning bid price), Tetsuya Ishida (550 million won), and Rakeep Shaw (150 million won) raised the price by keeping to the works. A Hong Kong collector I met that day said, “Although the global art market has entered a period of adjustment, the decline is not as great as the decline of Korean works.” It seems to be pushed back by some South East Asian countries,” he said. He said.

○ “Korean art, there’s nothing to buy”

This atmosphere was fully reflected in the Christie’s Hong Kong auction that day. Half of the exhibition space was made up of Chinese artworks, and the rest was divided equally between Western, Japanese, Vietnamese and Indonesian artworks. Korean works like Park Seo-Bo, Lee Kun-Yong, and Kim Chang-Yeol were pushed into a corner.

An official from the domestic art world regretted, saying, “Unlike previous years, Korean works were in an inconspicuous place, so I almost ignored them.” The number of Korean works featured in the highlight, ‘Evening Auction,’ has also dropped from two to one.

The local collectors I met that day told the reporter, “There aren’t many Korean works worth buying.” To summarize this way: It was in 2014 when the whole world paid attention to Dansaekhwa. During those eight years, collectors who knew how to read the trends of the art market bought the works of Lee Ufan or Park Seo-bo.

The problem arose from the lack of art discourse to perpetuate Dansaekhwa. An art world official I met at the site said, “In order to turn the eyes of the great artists back to Korea, the domestic art world needs to raise a new subject that will succeed Dansaekhwa.”” he said.

Hong Kong = Reporter Seong Soo-young/Oh Hyun-woo

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