Sneak peek of Art Busan shows strong emphasis on female trailblazers

With its focus on curating female artists and showcasing emerging galleries that highlight young and experimental artists, this year's Art Busan appears to deviate from its traditional role as solely an art market. To emphasize its focus, the country's largest art fair in the first half of the year introduced a new section, called Connect, and appointed Joo Yeon-hwa, an art professor at Hongik University in Seoul, as the inaugural art director for this special exhibition section. Asia's trailblazing female contemporary artists, such as Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, Korean visual artist Jung Kang-ja and Chinese performance artist Xiao Lu, receive special attention in the program titled "Herstory," as part of the Connect section. During the press preview at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center on Thursday, an array of impressive artworks created by Asian female artists who challenged male-centric societies and courageously pursued their careers as both artists and mothers garnered attention. "Herstory " features works by Kim Soun-gui, recognized as Korea's pioneering female media artist. Among her notable pieces are "One Stroke of Painting" (1975-1985), a video documenting her over a decade-long practice of Korean traditional archery, and "Peinture Cible" (1977-1988), which transforms her archery target into a painting. Another prominent artist featured in the section is Park Young-sook, known as the country's first-generation feminist photographer. Recognized for her series of female portraits, Park embarked on this artistic journey after being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39, and used her work to explore her own identity. Notable pieces on display include "Portraiture of 36 Friends" (1981), featuring her friends, including artist Yun Suk-nam, and "Mad Women Project" (1999-2005), depicting women grappling with societal pressures, some losing their sanity in the process. The fair also shines a spotlight on emerging galleries, such as Pageroom8 and Outhouse, that represent and support young artists through the Future section. The two galleries introduce artworks by Han Ji-min and Yoon Il-kwon, respectively. Both artists, who primarily work with printmaking, expressed their excitement Thursday for participating in Art Busan for the first time. "I've participated in art fairs twice in the past, and the exhibition space was quite limited. But this time, I could better exhibit my works, and I feel people show more interest," Yoon said. Launched in 2012, Art Busan has rapidly grown to become one of the country's premier annual art festivals, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Kiaf Seoul. This growth has enticed major art galleries and influential collectors from both the domestic and international arenas to converge on the port city, 320 kilometers southeast of Seoul, every spring. Art Busan claimed the top spot in the local art market last year, both in terms of visitor numbers and sales volume, according to the organizer. Breaking away from its traditional boundaries, Art Busan ventured into n ew territory by hosting its first design festival, Define: Seoul, in October. This event aimed to spotlight contemporary design blending Eastern and Western aesthetics, while also celebrating Korean heritage. The 13th edition of the art fair runs through Sunday, with 129 galleries representing 20 countries participating. Source: Yonhap News Agency