An Art Lesson from Seoul to Beijing - Part 1

I had the privilege of travelling overseas and visiting several cities in my previous job, including Los Angeles, Boston, Baltimore, New York, Venice, Frankfurt, Essen, Seoul and Beijing. They were mostly study trips that involved architecture and urban planning studies, or visits to significant events like the Venice Biennale which you might have read in my earlier post: (

Together with colleagues from the Economic Development Board (EDB) of Singapore, we made a trip to Seoul and Beijing, visiting art galleries, museums and art-related developments there. Despite being a short trip, it was an eye-opening experience and enlightening lesson for me in the fascinating world of contemporary art.

This was my first trip to Seoul and looking out of my hotel window onto the streets after I've checked-in, trying to figure out the Hangul on the tarmac. I loved this city so much and had returned shortly for my own holiday (

Interesting and immaculate road markings at a junction. Quite mesmerising to watch vehicles ballet around the intersection from my hotel room.

Stayed with Lotte Hotel, Seoul. Good location, great views.

Visited The Trinity Place which houses several art galleries.

There are plenty of interesting cafes and restaurants in Seoul, with some tucked in their traditional houses.

Walked past numerous "café buildings". Simple, sleek and elegant structures set in peace and serenity to enjoy your coffee.

After walking for hours and visiting a few galleries, it was finally time for a nice cup of coffee.

Coffee made with love.

Many new and contemporary art-related establishments could be seen along the streets, juxtaposing the traditional Hanok.

Quaint and independant cafes are a common sight at every corner along the back alleys.

Visited the Gana Art Center located at Pyeongchang-dong, a quiet residential area well-known for its cluster of art galleries. It was designed by French architect, Jean-Michel Wilmotte who also designed Incheon International Airport.

The Gana Art Center, which also houses the Gana Art Auction House.

ONE AND J. Gallery - a local gallery which focuses on young contemporary Korean artists. No one could possibly miss the big, bright yellow pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama at the entrance.

Details on the ONE AND J. building. An elegant and very well-designed and detailed building.

Signage of ONE AND J. Gallery along the side of the building, leading to the main door.

Visited Seomi Gallery, another renowned and respectable contemporary art and design gallery.

Beautiful contrast between the old and the new.

Visited the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art. The mega complex combining three buildings were designed by internationally renowned architects Mario Botta, Jean Nouvel and Rem Koolhaas. The Museum carries a vast and interesting collection of both Korean and international art.

The Museum building facade with a giant cone installation.

The iconic sculpture - Maman by Louise Bourgeois. A massive sculpture of spider on the roof deck of Leeum Samsung Museum.

Rem Koolhaas (foreground) in conversation with Mario Botta (background).

My colleagues entering the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art.

Interior of Rem Koolhaas's Samsung Child Education & Culture Center.

Interior of Mario Botta's Museum 1 building.

Was pleasantly surprised by this gorgeous sight of cherry blossom outside the Museum.

Another coffee stop at a beautiful café. I had lost count how many cups of coffee we had everyday during our trip.

A café with nice coffee, nice ambience, and nice people.

Established in 1982, Kukje Gallery is a leading venue for international exhibitions of world renowned contemporary artists.

The famous shopping street of Apgujeong-ro. It was a business trip and so, no, we didn't stop and shop.

Visited the vibrant street of Garosu-gil in Sinsa-dong.

Nice cafés along Garosu-gil. We were spoilt for choice.

Settled down at a café for another cup of coffee along the sidewalk of Garosu-gil. A wonderful way to unwind at the end of the day while man-watching the beautiful people of Seoul.

Mouth-watering army stew for dinner at Myeongdong.

The kaleidoscopic streetscape of Myeongdong. Although most stores and merchandise had nothing close to my needs or interests, it was still highly exciting to explore Myeongdong from street to street, shop to shop.

Art lesson part 2....

All photos taken with Samsung NX mirrorless system.


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