SEOUL – The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul will not extend director Bartomeu Mari’s tenure after his three-year term expires in December, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said on Wednesday.
The state-run facility has notified Mari of its decision, which has yet to be made public, sources from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism told Yonhap.
MMCA are looking for a candidate who can increasingly focus on establishing an identity for Korean art, the Ministry said, adding that they would begin looking for a replacement in October.
Mari (born in Ibiza in 1966), became the first foreigner in Dec. 2015 to head the museum in Seoul and had expressed his willingness to continue for another full term.
Before joining MMCA, Mari had served as director of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona for seven years, but stepped down following a controversy after he cancelled an exhibition over the depiction of a statue of Spain’s former King Juan Carlos I in a sexual scene.
His appointment as MMCA chief was greeted with apprehension by the art community in South Korea, particularly in conservative circles, with many opposed to a foreigner heading the country’s largest contemporary art museum, while several art professionals signed a petition against him regarding the case of alleged censorship at the MACBA.
He has also served as Curator of Exhibitions at the Fondation pour l’Architecture in Brussels, curator at IVAM in Valencia, director at Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and curator at Taipei Biennale, Taiwan.