4. Origin, Emergence, Return at Rockefeller Center

Origin, Emergence, Return at Rockefeller Center
A rendering of Lee Bae’s ‘Issu du Feu”

To prepare for its Korean heritage celebration in July and to showcase modern and contemporary Korean art, Rockefeller Center is debuting three new art installations in collaboration with three influential Korean artists. Organized by Johyun Gallery from Busan, Korea, the exhibition, Origin, Emergence, Return will be located at the Rink Level Gallery and consists of over 70 works that represent three generations of Korean artwork from the 20th century to the present. Each of the three sections of the exhibit will focus on one individual’s material.

Many consider Park Seo-Bo’s work to be the origin of post-war Korean art in the seventies. Bo’s Origin will contain over 40 of the artist’s works from the last fifty years, illuminating the ways in which his style and development helped shape both the modernization and westernization of Korean art in the late 20th century. Park Seo-Bo’s Origin utilizes Korean hanji paper as his focal point through traditional Korean calligraphy.

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Lee Bae’s Emergence uses charcoal as the primary material. In Bae’s work, the process of making the material becomes a symbol of eternity in the way a pine tree’s 100 years gain 1,000 when it is turned into the new form. Emergence displays many of Bae’s pieces from the artist’s Issu du Feu series (meaning “from the fire”) of cut pieces of charcoal attached to canvas. In addition to his works inside, as part of the Origin, Emergence, Return exhibition Bae will become the first Korean artist to present an outdoor sculpture in the Channel Gardens at Rockefeller Center. The sculpture will also be made of charcoal, though much larger pieces stacked on top of each other in an effort to have the material stand out from the surrounding skyscrapers. The sculpture is made of shapeless charcoal, nearly still in its tree form, representing the desire to purify what humans cannot solve. 

Return by Jin Meyerson consists of new paintings along with augmented reality overlays. Born in Korea but adopted by an American family, Meyerson’s work explores issues of colonialism and loss of heritage. Drawing from his own life, his paintings present a dual narrative and test the limits of painting being solely a pictorial medium. Origin, Emergence, Return will be on display at Rockefeller Center from June 8 to July 26 and an artist talk will be hosted on June 8 from 5 PM to 6 PM.