American Appendage

Mary Ryan Gallery, New York
November 11 - December 22, 2010

Opening Reception
Thursday, November 11, 6pm-8pm
American Appendate
Mary Ryan Gallery is pleased to announce Jiha Moon: American Appendage, an exhibition of new paintings by the Korean-born, Atlanta-based artist. This is her first solo show at Mary Ryan Gallery. American Appendage will feature a selection of paintings that combine ink, acrylic, fabric and collage on Hanji paper (Korean mulberry paper) mounted on canvas or silk. Moon blends Eastern and Western imagery and traditional Korean modes of presentation--the use of Hanji paper, her choice of frames, and the reference to Asian fan painting--along with visual icons from her past and present surroundings to explore ideas of cultural identity. The title of this exhibition, American Appendage, draws from the concept that the notion of “Americaness” is constantly evolving. According to Moon, in Korea the majority of people are 100% Korean, both racially and culturally, while in America, everyone is a cultural hybrid of some kind. The addition of the prefix “Korean” to Korean Americans (and similar “hyphenation” of other ethnic groups) downplays the integral role they play in weaving the vibrant tapestry of American culture. Moon seeks meaningful answers to questions like “where are you from?” and “what are you?” 

Moon’s paintings are bold, vivid and energetic. Pulling from Korean, English, and Chinese, as well as visual languages (computer symbols, emoticons, folk and pop imagery), she synthesizes these elements into a visual code, using wit and humor to emphasize commonalities in things seemingly disparate. Fittingly, Moon’s works integrate wildly diverse painting styles as well. She combines expressionist and calligraphic brushstrokes, diaphanous color washes and delicately inked lines, to convey the myriad stylistic influences on her work. Moon often camouflages her techniques, making painting look like drawing and incorporating sculptural elements that evoke the physicality of impasto paint. In her work, the line between what one sees, and what one thinks they are seeing is often blurred. She intentionally plays with the “identity” of painting, mirroring the philosophical aspects of her work. As a result of her year-long collaboration with the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, Moon’s latest work reflects an increased interest in surface texture, incorporating embroidery, collaged fabric elements and “appendages.” The internet and digital communication also figure significantly in this work, as technology has become an extremely important tool for facilitating cross-cultural dialogue. 

Yellno, 2010 Ink and acrylic on Hanji paper mounted on canvas 24 x 26 inches 

Yellno (2010) reflects Moon’s emotional response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The sense of urgency and uncertainty so prevalent during those months reminded Moon of Roy Lichtenstein’s 1963 painting Drowning Girl. In Yellno, the blue hair from Lichtenstein’s girl sweeps across the foreground of the canvas like a wave, obscured by tumultuous brushwork. A menacing black plume billows upward, and various Korean, Chinese, and fictitious characters drift in the chaos. Moon deliberately chooses to include words and characters that have meanings in multiple languages; in this work, the Chinese character “No-rang,” meaning “angry/wild wave” translates to “yellow” in Korean. The title combines both “yellow” and the Korean word, “no,” which means both “yellow” and “great anger.” Word play is yet another tool that Moon employs to guide viewers through her fantastical painted worlds.

Art Forum, February 2010

by Rebecca Dimling Cochran

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.

Blue Peony and Impure Thoughts

Saltworks Gallery, Atlanta
January 23 - March 6, 2010

Opening Reception
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
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

Preview: Jiha Moon’s new solo opens Saturday at Saltworks - Burnaway, January 2010

By Jeremy Abernathy on January 21, 2010

The imagery in Jiha Moon‘s paintings can thunder with laughter, whisper of legends long forgotten and some yet to be lived, and shed mournful tears of dripping blue and pink paint. Her new exhibition, opening at Saltworks Gallery this Saturday, January 23, from 6-9PM, is titled Blue Peony and Impure Thoughts. As Atlanta-based curator Stephanie Greene observes in her essay on the exhibition, “Traditional pink or white peonies represent luxury and wealth—the opposite of lotuses, which signify spirituality—but blue peonies don’t exist in nature.” In our interview below, the artist elaborates on her title and her influences and challenges in creating her recent work.

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Jiha Moon at Saltworks - Art in America, May 2008

by Rebecca Dimling Cochran

Jiha Moon studied both traditional Korean painting and Western painting at university in her native Korea. She furthered her knowledge of the latter in the United States, but it remains particularly telling that her early training was based in a system in which the two practices were distinctly separate. In her small- to medium-size works, she has developed a style of painting that is not so much a fusion as a harmonious layer- ing of the two traditions' distinct mark-making and leitmotifs.

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