‘Forest of Cage — Revelation of the Forest’ (1993) by Nam June Paik

Nam June Paik has the last laugh
By Jeff Michael Hammond

Rapid, multilayered, fluid — the high-tech images created by Nam June Paik earned him the epithet the Father of Video Art. He may be most often associated with banks of television screens and intense, distorted video images, but as a new retrospective of his work at the Watarium (The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art) in Tokyo highlights, there was more to Paik’s art than a fascination with technology.

“The 10th Anniversary Retrospective of Nam June Paik — 2020: Who is the One Grinning ?+?=??” showcases the South Korean-born artist’s videos, sketches, paintings, posters and plans of unrealized projects a decade after his death at the age of 73. With all works drawn from the museum’s collection, the Watarium’s connection with the artist goes back as far as 1978, when Paik held an exhibition at the predecessor to the museum, Galerie Watari.

Because of the sheer number of works he produced during his long career, the current exhibition is being held in two stages, with the first running until Oct. 10. This covers his start as a classical music student in the 1950s and his encounter with electronic music, continuing through the ’80s when, among other interests, he was experimenting with satellite TV broadcasting.

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