Launching its newly announced representation of the prolific and influential Korean artist Nam June Paik, Gagosian Gallery Hong Kong has opened an exhibition of the artist’s works during the last decade of his life, including a selection of video sculptures, paintings, and drawings that mark a refined yet diverse series of interests and formal languages for the artist, particularly when placed alongside the more classic works on view.
Paik’s estate has been on the rise in recent years, having seen a number of impressive exhibitions and gallery shows, including his landmark retrospective at Asia Society in New York City in 2013 and early 2014. A number of the works from this exhibition appear here, including his well-recognized TV Chair, as well as several of his painted televisions, which counter the slapdash scrawl of his painterly hand with the strobing, shifting images depicted on the tv screen underneath.
This interaction with contingent elements marked Paik’s work as singular during his career, allowing sudden inflections of the viewer’s body or the environment around the work to make themselves known within the piece’s material elements. In Golden Buddha and Standing Buddha with Outstretched Hand, the passing viewer occasionally appears on-screen, emphasizing their viewership in relation to the work as inherent to the work’s final form. It’s this point that makes Nam June Paik’s work so significant, delving into the nature of viewership and electronic communication as shaped by both viewer and material. In these works, the viewer becomes the work, not by physically interacting with the piece, but merely being present in front of the piece, taking part in the broadcast from object to screen.
Also on view is one of Paik’s robot sculptures, Bakelite Robot, which continues his interest in the anthropomorphic nature of his elements and material focus. Turning his objects into quite literal representations of the human form, the artist makes explicit the interactions between the human mind, the human body, and the elements that facilitate broader linkages and networks between all three around the globe.
Nam June Paik: The Late Style is on view in Hong Kong through November 7th.
— D. Creahan
Nam June Paik: The Late Style [Gagosian Gallery]