Asia Hotel Art Fair 2016, Seoul

First established in 2008, Asia Hotel Art Fair (formerly the Asia Top Gallery Hotel Art Fair) is today one of Asia’s principal international art showcases. Dedicated to the growth and promotion of the Asian art market, AHAF is Asia’s first and largest hotel art fair. It provides art lovers with a radical and refreshing departure from the traditional gallery or exhibition space, instead choosing to present art in hotel rooms; a relaxed and familiar space reminiscent of the home. This year, AHAF returns for its 15th edition and will open at the JW Marriott Seoul Hotel from 25 to the 28 August. The event will welcome work from 60 galleries from across Asia, including approximately 2,000 artworks by 300 artists.

Since its launch in 2008, AHAF has grown rapidly and now takes place twice annually in five-star hotel chains in both Hong Kong and Seoul. The partnership between original initiator, Asia Art Net, and current operator, the Asia Hotel Fair Committee, and various luxury hotel chains, has proven to be an effective one, with hotel publicity resources granting artists and galleries exposure to new collectors and audiences. This year’s event in particular follows its mission statement to combat the harmful effect the current economic environment has had on the arts market, with AHAF SEOUL 2016 continuing to build relationships between the Asian art market, the national and international arts community, the financial world, and the local neighbourhood.

In hopes to build a new market in the surrounding Gangnam area, AHAF SEOUL 2016 has decided to open the event to the general public. Following the success of its 2015 edition, which saw the sixth floor of the event location (the Conrad Seoul Hotel) used as an exhibition space, AHAF SEOUL 2016 has taken a step further and chosen to utilise the entire seventh floor of the JW Marriott Seoul. Named The A Space, the area transforms the hotel’s banquet hall into a white cube space and lounge area where large-scale exhibitions, previously impossible to display in hotel rooms, can be presented.

At the centre of The A Space will be the work of Korean media artist Chang Kyum Kim. Well known in Korea for his advertising collaboration with the chocolate brand ‘Charlotte’ featuring celebrity Shin Min-a, Kim produces media installations that project layered, virtual images and film on to real objects. Kim’s newest project, The Dish (2016), in which shifting media art is projected on to an enormous dish-like structure, is to be introduced at AHAF.

Like its previous events, AHAF SEOUL 2016 will extend beyond the premise of the JW Marriott Hotel by hosting exhibitions in the surrounding area. Hotel guests will be greeted to the venue by Japanese artist Yuki Matsueda’s large-scale installation, The King’s Vacation (2015). Considered “a pioneer of 3D art”, Matsueda first showcased the piece at AHAF Hong Kong 2015. For this year’s event, his work will dominate the JW Marriott’s lobby for a month-long special exhibition beginning 1 August.

Elsewhere, the fair collaborates with the Shinsegae Department Store (Gangnam branch), just next door to the hotel. Here, AHAF takes over Shinsegae’s recently opened Rooftop Gardens in order to showcase a special sculpture exhibition. Further highlights in the 2016 programme includes a special collaborative exhibition between the luxury art and fashion brand CASTELBAJAC Paris and Zo Sunhi; one of Korea’s most successful photographers. The project, named The <百(100) BAG> Project (2016), pays tribute to Korean culture and people, and features photographs of 100 Koreans from diverse backgrounds carrying CASTELBAJAC bags.

Not only will The <百(100) BAG> Project bring together art and photography with fashion and culture, but it will also generate proceeds for the charitable organisation Save the Children. By uniting artists, galleries and major corporations such as five-star hotels and department stores AHAF not only provides a unique and exciting space to showcase Asian art, but also an international community wherein Asian art can continue to flourish.

Asia Hotel Art Fair Seoul 2016, 25 – 28 August, JW Marriott Hotel Seoul, 8th, 9th, 10th & 7th floors (special exhibition), Central City, 176, Sinbanpo-ro, Seocho-gu, Seoul.

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1. Chang Kyum Kim, The Dish (2016).