Jiha Moon's candy coated chaos

Saltworks Gallery pops with Blue Peony and Impure Thoughts

Painter Jiha Moon, who lives in Atlanta but was born in Korea, invokes the vertical composition of traditional Korean painting, but opens up her work to the most American of abstract expressionists – Jackson Pollock – and the fluidity of his drips and splatters.

Zigzags and curlicues draw the eye up through the flattened space of Moon's "Blue Peony," now on view in her solo show, Blue Peony and Impure Thoughts, at Saltworks Gallery. "Yalari-Yala" pops with hot fuchsia and a cool thalo green mixed with white to make a color you'll probably recognize from your toothpaste. A lovely dark cloud blends a clear cobalt blue skyward into the darkest of indigos. Moon flings around bold colors in her work with such abandon, the combinations can be startling.

The artist professes a love for Philip Guston. A respected abstract painter, Guston made an abrupt 180-degree turn to pictorial imagery well into his career. Large heads and eyes painted in a limited red, gray, and green palette stack up on his canvases like the cigarette butts and light bulbs found elsewhere in his work. Moon doesn't evoke Guston's style so much as his spirit. While the pieces in Blue Peony don't carry the emotional weight of Guston's oil paintings, they similarly incorporate and rework cartoons, pop-culture tidbits, and the stuff of everyday life: Tigers leap small paintings in a single bound and Astro Boy comes in for a landing.

Moon's work evokes the natural landscape as much as the cultural one. Nature for her can be angst-filled, as in "Painter's Argument" in which thunder and lightning and wind and rain blow about as false teeth clatter and smoke rises above the miasma.

Quieter is "Good Place," a small tondo rubbed black and overlaid with black, blue, or red and white cartoon-like peaches that float over the surface like little time bombs.

"Storehouse," a large installation tucked into the back of the gallery, is composed of kitschy objects culled from toy stores and gift shops. Small, fastidiously arranged objects such as Pez dispensers sit just beneath eye level on exuberant red, green, blue, yellow and pink shelves. On the floor below sit five little sacks and some balls. The whole thing is like a code key to the rest of the show. Several of her small paintings rest on the shelves as if taking refuge from the turbulent world she's created outside the nook. For the onlookers, however, Moon's paintings are delicious forays into chaos.

Blue Peony and Impure Thoughts Through March 6. Free. Wed.-Fri., noon-6 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saltworks Gallery, 664 11th St. 404-881-0411. www.saltworksgallery.com.

More By This Writer


Thursday March 10, 2011 10:14 am EST

  • Shara Hughes
  • "These Sweets are too Sweet"

It's difficult to live and work as an artist anywhere. Atlanta especially has its own particular set of pluses and minuses: The city’s a good place to live, but many artists here struggle to maintain their careers. Painter Shara Hughes, who went to high school at Lovett and graduated six years ago from the Rhode Island School of Design, is not...

| more...


Tuesday November 9, 2010 01:29 pm EST

  • Courtesy Sandler Hudson Gallery
  • Mario Petrirena's "Eyes Wide Shut, 2010"

A hundred years ago, Pablo Picasso glued an image of chair caning onto one of his cubist oil paintings and collage was born. Actually, that might be oversimplifying it just a bit. The technique of collaging (the process of making new compositions from existing images cut and pasted together on a surface) has been around...

| more...


Thursday October 7, 2010 09:00 am EDT

  • Courtesy Marcia Wood Gallery
  • "Arcadian Troubles" by Timothy McDowell

“Printmaking camp” is what artist Joanne Mattera called the experience on her blog. This past summer, Atlanta gallerist Marcia Wood invited six of her most seasoned painters she shows to participate in a weeklong printmaking workshop last June at Connecticut College under the guidance of master printer Timothy McDowell....

| more...


Monday August 16, 2010 03:30 pm EDT
Discarded rubber works and photogravures examine the artist's process and place | more...


Thursday July 15, 2010 03:00 pm EDT
The High Museum's Signs of Life: Photographs by Peter Sekaer is the sleeper photographic exhibition of the summer. A contemporary of Walker Evans and a student of Berenice Abbott, Sekaer was well-known in the 1930s and '40s but slipped through the cracks after his death in 1950, only to be rediscovered in the last few decades. Under its outgoing curator of photography, Julian Cox, the High has... | more...
Search for more by Deanna Sirlin

[Admin link: Jiha Moon's candy coated chaos]