Contemporary visual culture is the ultimate melting pot. It lumps together an assortment of images, slogans, brands and ideas that we unwittingly absorb until the blurred line between image and reality becomes the definition, not the regulator, of American identity. South Korean-born, Atlanta-based artist Jiha Moon navigates this chaotic system with a sophistication and familiarity that comes from a life spent straddling worlds. In her art it is possible to see the mirror image of everyday American life, crowded with ideas that swarm against each other with equal parts opposition and harmony.
Jiha Moon is an Atlanta-based painter whose gestural paintings explore fluid identities and the global movement of people and their cultures. Featured in editions editions 63, 70, and 82 of New American Paintings, Moon was recently a finalist for the Hudgens Prize, selected by jurors that include the Curator of Prints at The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Director and Curator of Exhibitions and Public Programs at The New Museum. I had the chance to visit with Moon at her studio where we discussed her recent incorporation of fabric and collage, a bold step for someone who self-identifies as “a painter’s painter.” More images, and our conversation, after the jump. —Paul Boshears, Atlanta contributor
November 11 - December 22, 2010
Jiha Moon's increased confidence is evident in this new series of paintings. The tension between figuration and abstraction still pervades her repeated layering of traditional Asian landscapes and gestural expressionism. But this new work seems to revel in the joy of painting, alternating thin washes of Ink with delicately rendered objects and thick impasto brushstrokes, all on Moon's favored handmade hanji paper. Collage also figures in some of the works, as when she adds paper to extend her painted surface from the rectangular picture plane or incorporates fabric appliqués, possibly an influence from her ongoing residency al The Fabric Workshop.
The South Korean-born, Atlanta-based artist still wrestles with the notion of shifting identities, particularly in our image-laden society. Pac-Man-like figures with razor sharp teeth, butterflies, and even Wonderland's Alice find their way into her peaceful landscapes with floating clouds and trees, which are interrupted and by bursts of energetic color. The work speaks of a society that not only straddles two cultures but also occupies a third – in cyberspace. Moon's professed hero Philip Guston started in 1960, “[P]ainting is impure. It is the adjustment of impurities which forces painting’s continuity. We are image-makers and image-ridden. Moon seems to have taken this to heart in her current exhIbition (titled "Blue Peony and Impure Thoughts” in Guston's honor), providing thought provoking interpretations of the multilayered and image-rich world she inhabits.
"Painter's Argument," the title of a painting in Jiha Moon's boffo exhibition at Saltworks gallery, might also serve as a declaration of purpose.
Saltworks Gallery, Atlanta
January 23 - March 6, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 6pm-9pm
SALTWORKS is pleased to present Blue Peony and Impure Thoughts, featuring new works on paper and an installation by Atlanta-based artist Jiha Moon. The exhibition will be on view from January 23, 2010 through March 6, 2010. This is the second solo exhibition of Ms. Moon's work at the gallery.
Botan Dog, 2009, ink, acrylic and embroidery on hanji paper mounted on canvas, 10" diameter
Throughout her artistic career, the multivalent paintings of Korea-born and Atlanta-based artist Jiha Moon have operated in several distinctive yet visually cohesive realms. As the title of her current Saltworks Gallery exhibition―“Blue Peony and Impure Thoughts”―suggests, this handsome body of work simultaneously conflates cultural references and confounds expectations, all while accommodating multiple audience interpretations.
The unnatural abounds in everyday life and in Moon’s compositions, like the blue peony, found in Cheoyong and others. Traditional pink or white peonies represent luxury and wealth―the opposite of lotuses, which signify spirituality―but blue peonies don’t exist in nature, twisting the expectation of these signature shapes. In this spirit, another shifting character in her work is an inu-hariko, another symbol for good fortune, which looks like a cat, but is actually a dog found on traditional Japanese toys and sweets like Botan Rice Candy (botan means peony in Japanese). Therefore, these lush surfaces have deeper, changeable underpinnings, as the “true” identities of each figure fades in and out of focus. - Excerpt from exhibition essay by Atlanta-based curator Stephanie Greene.
Jiha Moon lives and works in Atlanta, GA. Recent solo exhibitions include Turbulence Utopia, Mint Museum, Charolette, NC and Pleasant Purgatory, Brain Factory, Seoul, Korea. Selected group exhibitions include the One Way or Another, Asia Society and Museum, NY (traveling); Currents, Recent Acquisitions, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Movement, Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA; Art on Paper Biennial, Weatherspoon Museum, NC. Selected artist residencies include Headlands Center for the Arts, Golden Foundation fellowship, Sausalito, CA; Art Omi International Artists Residency, Ghent, NY; and the Singapore Tyler Print Institute, artist residency awarded by Asia Society and Museum, New York, NY. Moon is currently an artist-in-residence at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadephia, PA