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South Korean Museum Refuses To Return Loaned Art To Russia

Sejong Center For Performance Arts in Seoul has refused to return 63 loaned works to Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts, amid the Russia-Ukraine war.

The artworks were part of a travelling exhibition titled “Kandinsky, Malevich & Russian Avant-Garde.” After travelling across Europe by December, the works came to their last stop in Seoul. Here, they were scheduled to be on view till April 17. The 63 artworks featured a variety of avant-garde Russian artists, including Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Natalia Goncharova and Alexander Rodchenko.

Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts

When the exhibition was first inaugurated in December, it was hailed by Russian officials like Andrey Kulik, the Russian Ambassador to Korea. However, tensions arose when Russia invaded Ukraine. South Korea joined the countries that condemned Russia’s actions and approved sanctions. The sanctions included a ban on the export of vital materials to Russia and a ban on seven Russian banks operating in South Korea. The refusal to return the loaned artworks is the latest impact of these tensions.

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The Seoul gallery is not alone in taking action against Russia for its involvement in the war. In Milan, more than 20 artworks from Russian Hermitage Museum were loaned to the city. While the Russian officials requested their return, the city refused to do so. Similarly, Foundation Louis Vuitton in Paris refused to stop the exhibition of works from the collection of 19th-century Russian collectors. As the Russia-Ukraine war continues, more museums are stepping up to cut ties with Russian museums and artists as a part of ‘cultural sanctions’.