Artwork of the month April

Nam June Paik, Color Bar (19), 1996

Nam June Paik

* 1932 in Seoul, South Korea, † 2006 in Miami, USA

Color Bar (19), 1996

Oil and acrylic on canvas, portable aerial television, SD card reader

Contemporary Art Foundation / Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz

Similar to the familiar colour bar pattern used for visual evaluation and optimisation of TV images, the support for Nam June Paik's Color Bar (19) is grounded with the same colour bars. However, unlike the accustomed test pattern, in which these bars are arranged vertically, in this case they are painted horizontally on the canvas in acrylic. The composition of the test pattern is characterised by the three primary colours red, green and blue and the derivative secondary colours yellow, cyan and magenta. A white (RGB 255 – full white) and black bar (RGB 0) also feature in the formation. Upon this precisely laid out spectrum Paik applies textured patches of colour from the range already used, bleeding them into each other with a dynamic gesture, thus breaking away from the exact ordering of the picture's background. In addition, the artist uses the portable aerial television mounted on the canvas to open up the classical two-dimensionality of the surface of the picture into three-dimensional space. With the aid of the video performed on the portable TV's little screen he also incorporates moving images – in their temporal dimension of changing colours and shapes – into the piece.

The composer and visual artist born in South Korea is regarded as a pioneer of video art. A member of the Fluxus movement, Paik searched for new forms of artistic expression, impressively combining impetus from music and visual arts with technical innovations in his work. His powerful and humorous media-critical exploration of the television medium was a key element in this context. Paik did not see television primarily as an appliance for transporting ideas, instead he was interested in the rhythm of changing images, the potential of electronic painting, translation of the transmitting medium into a sculptural form – into an artistic moment. Familiar with the Eastern and Western lifeworld and their teachings, Nam June Paik also made use of the interplay of these different levels of observation in his works – for example by integrating contemplative stillness to contrast with the deluge of moving images.

Denise Rigaud

<b>Nam June Paik, Color Bar (19), 1996</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.