Home » Exhibitions » Exhibition Review: Nam June Paik at Tate Modern from 17 October 2019 to 9 February 2020

Exhibition Review: Nam June Paik at Tate Modern from 17 October 2019 to 9 February 2020

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Tate Modern presents a major exhibition of the work of Korean artist Nam June Paik, the artist is best known for his pioneering use of emerging technologies. The exhibition organised by Tate Modern and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is the most comprehensive survey of the artist’s work ever staged in the UK, bringing together over 200 works which covers the whole of the artist’s career.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Nam June Paik (1932-2006) was one of the first artists that foresaw the power of mass media and new technologies and began to experiment with using the electronic image through a number of innovative ways such as TV sets, live performances, global television broadcasts, single-channel videos, and video installations.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

One of the early installations in the exhibition is TV Garden 1974/2002, dozens of television sets appear from a garden of lush vegetation. Paik ‘s surreal arrangement contrasts the natural and the artificial world.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Nearby is TV Buddha 1974 in which a sculpture gazes through its own image through a closed circuit television and One Candle (Candle TV) 2004, both provide evidence of the way Paik brings together modern technology and ancient wisdom.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Paik had studied classical music in Tokyo and when he arrived in Europe in the 1950s, he was drawn to avant-garde composers like Stockhausen and Cage. He began to experiment in producing his own music and the Exposition of Music room in the exhibition features a number of his works.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

In the early 1960’s, Paik began to recognise how television was being used to manipulate its viewers, a television in the exhibition features President Nixon making a speech and Paik’s first robot work Robot K-456 1964 was a response to the fear that television was a danger to democracy. The artist began to experiment with electronic art.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

As Paik’s career developed he began to collaborate with a number of artists, composers, designers and poets, the exhibition features his work with composer John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham and artist Joseph Beuys. Paik’s collaboration with cellist Charlotte Moorman developed into a number of performances incorporating Paik’s television sculptures which include TV Cello 1971 and TV Bra for Living Sculpture 1969.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Transmission room explores how Paik was one of the first artists who understood the potential of telecommunications to deliver art around the world in long distance live collaborations.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

His 1993 video wall entitled Internet Dreams refers to his prediction of a large global information network, Paik used the term ‘Electronic Superhighway’ in 1974.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The large installation One Candle (Candle Projection) 1989 brings the artist back to the ideas of Zen Buddhism and how evertthing is connected and changing.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The exhibition ends with the dazzling installation Sistine Chapel 1993, recreated for the first time since he was awarded the Golden Lion for the German pavilion at the Venice Biennale over 25 years ago.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

This fascinating and playful exhibition offers the opportunity to discover the wonderful world of Nam June Paik. Although not widely known, his pioneering work into the arrival of the mass media and the digital revolution deserves greater recognition. Because of his background he made many connections between Eastern and Western cultures especially regarding the ways that things are interconnected. Paik recognised the potential and the dangers of the new types of media with his innovative and entertaining works.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Tate Modern website here

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