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TO OCT. 15
When contemporary artists play with traditional media, it’s often a tongue-in-cheek affair. Arguably, then, Jiha Moon isn’t doing anything new. Even her collision of traditional Eastern brushwork with elements of kawaii—Japanese pop-culture cuteness—has already been thoroughly mined by better-known artists such as Takashi Murakami. But however familiar her ideas may be, Moon’s art is simply exquisite. Her 10 smallish works on paper currently on display at the Curator’s Office all use a few simple, routinized operations to produce startling results. Take, for example, J Walk: On paper stained a subdued range of blues and violets, Moon interleaves spontaneous, watery marks indicating mountain ranges, roiling waters, and twisting clouds—which, here and there, transform into the shapes of fantastic animals. Opaque, cartoonish blossoms flash red, orange, yellow, and violet, hanging from strange, twisted vines. Often, Moon courts extravagance, but her color and line remain firmly controlled. In Tangle (pictured), sprays of monochromatic, unidirectional rain resolve into bundles of string, hanging in clumps and knots. In Cardinal, red ink drips down the page over a wash of gold-ochre and brown. Some of these marks are, indeed, drips; others are embellished cartoon signs for dripping paint. In Moon’s world, rainbows, one-eyed plants, and monsters peek out from every corner. It’s all an opportunity for self-indulgence, but Moon somehow keeps her balance, never overdoing it. The show is on view from noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, to Saturday, Oct. 15, at the Curator’s Office, 1515 14th St. NW, Suite 201. Free. (202) 387-1008. (Jeffry Cudlin)