Now on view at Rockefeller Center is the first-ever celebration of Korean culture at the Art Deco site. Towering over the Channel Gardens visitors will see Issu du feu by artist Lee Bae. Bae’s work marks the first time a Korean artist has presented in this space. The piece is just one of 70 different works of art that make up the exhibit Origin, Emergence, Return. This collection highlights three different Korean artists – Park Seo-Bo, Lee Bae, and Jin Meyerson – from three different generations.

charcoal sculpture in Origin, Emergence, Return at Rockefeller Center
Courtesy of Johyun Gallery

Issu du Feu means “from the fire” and is the title of a series that Lee Bae has been working on since 1991. The sculpture at the Channel Gardens is the largest piece in the series. Made of three large charcoal lumps, the sculpture “evokes the unavoidable memory of disasters heard from around the world.” Set against a backdrop of man-made skyscrapers, the sculpture contrasts our current time to one that existed before civilization, or after.

Secrets of Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center

In Bae’s smaller works in the Issu de Feu series, each piece in the series is made from cut charcoal attached to canvas. The charcoal’s rough surface has been polished. Through those works on canvas and the giant sculpture at the Channel Gardens, Bae examines charcoal as a medium of expression.

charcoal sculpture in Origin, Emergence, Return at Rockefeller Center
Courtesy of Johyun Gallery

Bae’s massive Issu du Feu sculpture serves as the gateway to the rest of the 10,000-square-foot exhibition. The exhibition, which can be found at the Rink Level Gallery at Rockefeller Center, begins with more than 40 works by Park Seo-Bo, an artist who is largely regarded as the founder of the Korean Dansaekhwa or monochrome painting movement. Visitors will see works created by Park from the 1970s to the present day. On display will be pieces from his early series Écriture, which is “rooted in Korean traditions of calligraphy and the meditation of infinite possibility through simple materiality.” The legacy of Park’s work is explored through the contemporary pieces in this exhibition, presented in partnership with the Johyun Gallery.

Origin, Emergence, Return at Rockefeller Center
Courtesy of Johyun Gallery

Through video art directed by Jifan Park, visitors will get a behind-the-scenes look at Park Seo-Bo’s rigorous practice. Presented on Samsung’s flagship 146” LED display, The Wall IAB, the video brings you up close to Park’s masterful and mesmerizing strokes.

Artist Jin Meyerson uses augmented reality to engage with issues of displacement, loss of heritage, post-colonialism, and the expansive Korean diaspora in his paintings. Meyerson started using early computer graphics and randomization software back in the 1990s to create large-scale immersive paintings. His works at Rockefeller Center have a mind-bending effect.

Origin, Emergence, Return
Courtesy of SAMSUNG

Origin, Emergence, Return is presented as part of Rockefeller Center’s celebration of Korean culture and heritage which will include Korean cuisine, fashion, art, music, and more. The celebration will culminate in a week-long festival of activities July 19 to 23. Origin, Emergence, Return. is on view now through July 26, 2023. See it for yourself on one of Untapped New York’s Secrets of Rockefeller Center walking tours!

Next, check out 20 Must-See Art Installations in June