Illusionistic Conditions in the Hye Ja Moon(By John Austin, March 2015)
Hye Ja Moon’s Paintings announce themselves with a playful confidence and exuberance. At the heart of this artist’s work is her evident impulse to offer the viewer an experience that is grounded in material reality (hence the strongly felt use of silhouette-like outlines that remind us of objects of cultic value) yet keenly aware of the need for an interplay of immateriality, and a reference to a transcendent reality to co-exist within each work.
Hye Ja Moon’s work representing colorful interlaced pieces are of both objective and non-objective. They articulate pictorially a need for an exchange between an echo of the mimetic and an equally adamant desire to renounce explicit subject matter. On the other hand, the subject matter of figurative imagery fills Moon’s vibrant paintings.
This simultaneous divergence is the chief quality in the artist’s work and it is the source of magical omnipotence that exudes from both paintings and sculptures. Each of these is made manifest in Hye Ja Moon’s artwork that is interested in presenting to the spectator an experience that relates both to the quality of edges and in the relations between movement, mass and color. More particularly the artist suggests through the careful balancing of organic and non-organic visual codes in her paintings that she works from things that are man-made or natural or a combination of the two.
What is at play in this work is what the ancient philosopher Apollonius calls our “imitative faculty” and how we use the faculty of projection to recognize in abstract shapes or patterns and figurative elements that are stored in our minds. Hye Ja Moon is evidently a master at arousing this type of act of perceptual classification in her spectator’s mind. The artist’s invention of forms, textures and colors becomes a pictorial method that is sufficiently expeditious to draw forth ideas from the spectator’s mind while using the power of association.
Thus a complex process of interaction between making and matching, suggestion and projection, takes place every time the eye and mind of the beholder confronts her configurations and their titles. The circular pattern formations in Music for Ending Story, for example, refer both to symbolism and to the chronological aspect of Moon’s work. The emblematic configurations might just as easily infer a rocket booster, a ritual house or a fertility symbol.
Such polymorphic richness is just another facet of the artist’s work’s evident joy in confounding our sense of what is real and what is not through Moon’s deftly conjured-up spatial play. The careful study of natural objects and their masses is keenly sensed in this complex work as is the artist’s superb design sense and her appreciation for textual and proportional play. The result is an immersion in the dynamics of form, structure and gesture whose primary claim to authenticity is the effortless, seemingly casual sense of inevitability that greets the viewer in each of Hye Ja Moon’s paintings.
John Austin is an art writer based in Manhattan.