Art Galleries, Seoul
I love art, especially great art. And Seoul has a lot of great art, including works by Western artist Auguste Rodin. In case you are not sure who Rodin is, the statue "the Thinker" is one of his best known works. Sometimes scary (like Rodin's gates of hell) but always beautiful, his sculptures are something not to be missed.
While the "Thinker" is not at this gallery, and it only seems to have three or four of his works, the works it does have, have such depth and dimension that is is worth the time to see. It is also a great chance to witness genius up close and personal. Plus, it is right next door to the Namdaemun gate in a white glass building which is of a design that is almost as impressive as the sculpture inside. It is a quick trip over from the Namdaemun market
If your a Korean contemporary artist Seoul is the place to be and that means Insadong to strut your stuff on Insadong-gil (street). This is indeed the artists' ghetto in a country seemingly starved of decent new art. I live in Busan a city of 4 million and there are only a finger or two of independant galleries which come near to what's commonly found on this inner city street of Seoul. This place doesn't even get a mention in the Lonely Planet, but it's not hard to find, just follow the "in" crowd from either Anguk subway station, or alternatively if your comming from the gutts of Seoul's Jongno Street, just head on north from the opposite side of Samilro across from Tapgol Park.
Of course you'll find the hords of middle class suburban tourists also out on their weekend promonade. This could be Melbourne's Brunswick Street or Sydney's Glebe Point Road, but hay I live in Busan and I was hangin out for this kind of thing for a while. Check out those little dog leg streets and lanes which run off the main drag. Here you'll find interesting little arts shops selling traditional and contemporary objects, aswell a restaurant or two who know how to do a decent pasta.
On main street, Insadong-gil find your way into some of the major contemporary arts spaces. Along with the multitude of traditional tea houses these are really the main attraction to Insadong.
If you visit there, You can get about taste of Korean Traditional Tea and manner.
Traditional Tea House Open : 10:00 ~ 23:00
Gwanhun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Subway Line1, Jonggak Stn Exit 3.
Line 3, Anguk Stn, Exit 6.
Line 5, Jongno 3ga Stn, Exit 4
Tel : 02-733-4448 (ARS 9)
E- mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Heyri Art Valley (or as some folks call, Heyri art village) is about an hour's ride from Seoul. It's in gyeonggi-do, paju-si. What's really unique here is the architecture and the way of life. Artists live on the upper floors and exhibit their work in the galleries on the basement or ground floor. Entrance to the various galleries is a token 1000won.
You can also chill out at the many cafes there. I loved the chocolate design gallery (it's a cafe). Prices are around 5000-7000won for a latte or dessert. (www.chocolategallery.co.kr)
Lovely in spring, and poetic in winter. Really gives you inspiration for your artistic works =)
How to get there: At Exit no. 5 of Daehwa Station (Seoul Subway Line no. 3), walk to the bus station at the backside. Take bus no. 200 which comes about every hour. (1,400 won, 50 minute ride)
Not exactly a typical museum. Small room situated in a small building beside a dental clinic. Holds a small private collection of embroidered works. Of particular interest is a embrodery from the palace.
Getting there is half the challenge. After exiting Hakdong station (line7), you'll see a sign pointing to the museum. You'll end up at a deadend where a carpark is. Your best bet is to get the guard at the carpark to show you to the museum, after weaving through a back alley.
Then you make your way up to the 2nd (or is it 3rd) storey where you see a dental clinic. The door of the gallery ends up locked? Go into the dental clinic and tell the nurse you're trying to get in, she makes a call and pronto, the keyholder turns up. Only for the ultimate embroidery fan.
Established by a wealthy and eccentric collector and opened to the public, this is one of Seoul`s more unexpected sights.
The "Asia Eros" museum features prints, sculptures and paintings from all over Asia about the subject of...sex. Its all very tastefully done though. One of the most amusing things is the heavy emphasis on Japanese and Indian objets d`art - with almost nothing from Korea! No sex thanks, we`re Korean? Most memorable for me were a pair of tiny Chinese shoes, worn by concubines with bound feet, sitting in front of a painting which shows men cavorting with their concubines and kissing thier fetishized tiny feet , little more than bleeding stumps...ewww.....
Also noteworthy: politically charged 1920s Japanese prints showing men making love to women of different social strata : nurses, peasantwomen, intellectuals.In each case however the man`s anatomy is a case of clearly wishful thinking on the part of the (male) artist!
Also an Indian statue of a dude getting jiggy with a horse!
Entrance is a bit steep at 10,000 won but includes a drink on the rooftop cafe.The museum is conveniently located close to the Gyeongbokgung Palace and National Folk museum (recommended!), the Tibetan Art Museum and the Blue House, the president`s mansion,if you want to make a day of it.
Another reclusive and strange theme "museum" in the Anguk area which I chanced across while strolling in the area. This is the Tibetan Museum.