James Jean's Eternal Journey at the Lotte Museum in Seoul, Korea is an exhibition that's simply vast. You have to understand the scale of the space, it's a building floor in the fifth tallest building in the world. The exhibition spans multiple rooms which pack visual themes, eras, and new work. It's a powerful retrospective, which long ago might be deemed mid-career. But let's call it the first third to be safe.
Highlights include Jean's epic and key pieces assembled from collections around the world. You will see the images that gave him a cult audience over a decade ago. Some come from the Fables comic and many are already immortalized in many forms like books, prints, and postcards. (You'll recognize them below)
There's a room of sketchbooks featuring illustrations of his friends, strangers, and visual notes. It's here where it seems like you've hit the center of the exhibition - sort of like its spine. It's where all of the works originate, and at the same time everything echoes back. Here, you can see a progression just through the offering of his pen lines, including obvious experimentations and styles. It's a sub-exhibition within the exhibition that summons for examination.
In the surrounding rooms, you walk through interactive digital pieces, new sculptures including an eight foot stained glass obelisk. But what will be the most talked about room features a series of giant billboard-size paintings which is a journey of its own, almost like traversing through a neighborhood. Even if you try, you can't quite see the end from the beginning. You not only view the large works but the sketches that created them, which fits one of the overarching themes of Eternal Journey, transparency.
Experiencing the multiple walk ways in the Lotte Museum give you the glimpses of Jean's life circulating from bright, to dark, to bright again.