Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Jiha Moon: Line Tripping at Curator’s Office
Upon entering Curator’s Office, I was immediately captivated by Jiha Moon’s “Flourish Wind.” First, I moved in close to study the artist’s techniques- I wanted to determine places in the image where acrylic paint and ink were allowed to behave according to their nature (dripping and pooling), and I also searched to pinpoint how the artist transitioned from this treatment of material into more rendered and drawn imagery. These kinds of distinctions are difficult to make via digital imagery and online images really do not do Moon’s work justice. After I looked closely, I moved back to take in the whole composition. Only a few minutes later, I found myself moving in again for more detailed observation. I interacted similarly with each of the images presented in the exhibition.
It seemed to me that Moon’s process began very loosely, with a series of washes and gestural marks. From looking at the work, it appeared that she might continue to react to the “atmosphere” implied by these materials, refining with tighter, more specific forms existing in/as the foreground of the work. Curator John Ravenal’s comprehensive essay accompanying the show supported my assumptions about the artist’s process.
Moon’s work is sensuous, emotive, and elegant. The forms and atmospheres she creates exist in a world I don’t quite understand. There are things in this world that I recognize- hints of trees, clouds, billowing fabric, waves, and these things even seem to (at times) operate according to natural laws such as gravity; however, there is a swirling energy in each of the works that creates a sense of perpetual unrest.
Perhaps this is a natural state for work embodying so many dichotomies. Ravenal writes:
Jiha Moon’s work is often discussed in terms of opposites brought together in a
single image: East and West, tradition and innovation, representation and
abstraction, spontaneity and control… Her work teems with the results of
productive tension between contrasting forces, and she herself describes her
experience of moving between diverse cultures- Korea and the United States,
small town and city, the North and the South- as a primary influence on her
Perpetual unrest is not an unpleasant experience in Jiha Moon’s work. As I moved back and forth to study the parts and then the whole of Moon’s efforts, I noticed moments of stillness in the images’ details, evidence of yet another balancing act on the part of the artist. I believe it is these opposites (or perhaps complements) contained successfully within Moon’s work that make the images so ultimately satisfying.