I am a communication artist.
—Nam June Paik
Gagosian Hong Kong is pleased to present the first exhibition of Nam June Paik’s work in Hong Kong, following the announcement of the gallery’s worldwide representation of his estate.
Born in Korea and living and working internationally, Paik brought television into the realm of art for the first time and treated it as a tactile and multisensory medium. His early interests in composition and performance combined with his radical aesthetic tendencies brought him into contact with protagonists of the counterculture and avant-garde movements of the 1960s, including Fluxus. Such engagement profoundly shaped his outlook at a time when electronic images were becoming increasingly present in everyday life. Trained as a classical pianist, he embraced new technologies as material parts of his repertoire, which later included satellite transmissions, robots, and lasers. In 1974 Paik coined the term “electronic superhighway” to describe the exponential growth of new forms of communication. His installations, performances, and writings contributed to the creation of a media-based culture that expanded the very definition and aesthetic possibilities of making art.
Video sculptures, paintings, and drawings produced during the last decade of Paik’s life, many of which have never been exhibited, will be presented together with key works from the 1960s through the 1980s. The exhibition testifies to his lifelong exploration of the role of technology in culture, including the dissemination of infinite images via television. In TV Chair (1968), he harnessed the closed-circuit capacities of video to engage the viewer. The autobiographical installation 359 Canal Street (1991) comprises wall-mounted television parts and a desk containing personal letters from Paik’s friends, including Ray Johnson, Yoko Ono, and Fluxus founder George Maciunas, as well as newspaper clippings on Paik’s activities as an emerging artist in Europe.
After suffering a stroke in 1996 at the age of sixty-four, Paik traveled less and spent more time at his New York studio, where he revisited persistent themes while tenaciously pursuing new ones. He continued to use the television as his muse and canvas, marking monitors with fleeting brushstrokes, painting and drawing abstractions that evoke transmissions gone awry, and engineering technologically ambitious installations for major exhibitions at the Guggenheim museums in New York (2000), Bilbao (2001), and Berlin (2004). In Candle TV (1991–2003), a single lit candle stands in for electronic light inside the shell of a television, while in Golden Buddha (2005), a carved Buddha figure faces a screen displaying images of itself. In a series of brightly colored canvases from 2005, Paik humanized schematic TVs with facial features, using conventional painting materials to represent his signature subject and medium. In these final years, he fused disparate elements from art, music, nature, and technology into avant-garde bricolage.
An accompanying, fully illustrated publication (bilingual in English and Chinese) includes an essay by independent curator and scholar John G. Hanhardt, numerous color plates, and extensive documentation on Paik’s life and work.
是次展覽將展出白氏逝世前十年間創作的錄像雕塑、油畫及素描，當中包括多件從未展出的作品，同時亦帶來他在六十年代至八十年代的重要作品。是次展覽印證白氏畢生探索科技在文化中擔當的角色，包括通過電視播放的無數影像。他的《電視座椅》(TV Chair)(1968年)通過加強影像的閉路功能來和觀眾交流。自傳式裝置藝術《運河街359號》(359 Canal Street)(1991年)在一張書桌上方的牆上懸掛電視零件，桌上放有Ray Johnson、小野洋子及激浪派創辦人喬治‧馬西納斯(George Maciunas)等人的信，以及有關白氏作為歐洲新晉藝術家的活動剪報。
白氏於1996年64歲時中風後，減少了外出旅行，大部分時間都留在紐約工作室，重新探討以往的主題，並在過程中加入新意念。他繼續從電視尋找靈感，並以此作為創作媒介，以畫筆靈巧迅速地畫過顯示屏，抽象的畫作令人想起出錯的直播影像。他亦為紐約(2000年)、畢爾包(2001年)及柏林(2004年)古根漢美術館的大型展覽創作採用大量科技的裝置藝術。於《蠟燭電視》(Candle TV )(1991年至2003年)中，他在電視外殼內擺放一支蠟燭，取代電子發出的光。而《金佛》(Golden Buddha) (2005年)則展示一尊面向顯示屏的佛像，顯示屏正在播放佛像的影像。於2005年創作的一系列彩色畫作中，白氏在畫布上繪製擬人化的電視機形象，利用傳統繪畫材料展示其標誌性的題材及媒介。在其創作生涯晚期，白南準將藝術、音樂、大自然及科技元素融入前衛拼裝藝術之中。
展覽隨附的全配圖畫冊刊載有由獨立策展人兼學者John G. Hanhardt撰寫的文章、諸多彩色播圖及大量介紹白氏生平和作品的文獻(中英文)。
Reading Nam June Paik
Earlier this year, MIT Press released We Are in Open Circuits: Writings by Nam June Paik. Here Gregory Zinman, coeditor of the book along with John Hanhardt and Edith Decker-Phillips, writes about his first exposure to the artist’s archives, the discoveries made there, and the relationship between Paik’s writings and his larger practice.
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2019
The Winter 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a selection from Christopher Wool’s Westtexaspsychosculpture series on its cover.
Time by Dance by Paik
Gillian Jakab considers the role of choreography in Nam June Paik’s 1989 video installation Fin de Siècle II.
Life and Technology: The Binary of Nam June Paik
Alexander Wolf explores the intersection of life and technology as it exists in the work of Nam June Paik, revealing the artist’s ability to balance technological concerns with humanity through music, performance, expressive painting, and images from nature.