“Combo!” Lunar Landscape or. (Lotteria.) Raspberry Jam Stain (The Korea Herald)? “Burger/barbecue/fish filet + Pepsi = 3,200.” Random Landscapes, at PKM Gallery: Secom professional security car departing Dongincheon’s “shopping street.” There’s More Than Meets the Eye. In fashionable sea green and pale blue stripes: Moon Beom’s paintings conjure anything from Chinese landscapes to jelly. Departs, revealing a sign. Oscillating between abstraction and representation. For “Dream of Spring.” Moon’s conceptual pieces change, depending on which word in his exhibition’s title you choose to emphasize. A shop called “Indian” is displaying T-shirts out front, in peach, grey, mauve and cream. If you choose “random,” his paintings are nothing more than the slightly cleaned up, haphazard marks of an oil stick. In the restaurant’s window: a Plexiglas box with artificial grass, real spring blossoms. A compact bar of oil paint, smeared on a wood panel.
Salesperson nervous about author activity. Some of these shellacked “paintings.” “30% Sale.” Look like accidents. Next door. “Sorrento” (an Italian restaurant). For example: Tiny spruce trees in white planters have been strung with tiny white bulbs. “Slow, same #7124.” A window display of “Italian” ingredients: Could either be raspberry jam smudges. “Kraft” Parmesan cheese, “Figaro” green olives, “Publix” linguine, “Badia” pimenta negra. Or smeared lipstick. Tilted toward the sidewalk viewer. While “slow, same #2024.” Two plates of: Monochrome acrylic and polyurethane. Spaghetti and clams, spaghetti and ham (prosciutto). Where metallic blue paint puddles up on the surface. Interior view of lavender tablecloths under glass, white ceramic salt-and-pepper shakers atop them: Resemble a sloppy paint job for a Cadillac. White wooden chairs in ruffled rung-length dusters; a white-clad chef at work, glimpsed over/past the white counter.
Likewise under the “random” interpretation. Across-street view of “ASK” (blue) “enquired” (gold), which is showing British flag sportswear: The spray can, fish and ping-pong ball. White blazers with wide blue stripes. In his C-print photographs (check out the basement). Next door: “[windmill logo] NOTO / rest in classic.” Are found little more than a random sampling of objects. We move along to “F Sharp,” which has gone out of business; across the street: “1492 Miles” and “FNC Kolon / Fashion and Culture.” You have a much richer variety of meaning, if you choose to put the accent on “landscapes.” “KIKI” (black with red diamonds dotting the “I”s). The paintings on the first floor. “Hair & Make Up” (in red). Morph from the decorative paisley motifs of Toile de Jouy fabric into lush, elusive. “http://www.kiki.co.kr” (in black). Landscapes with waterfalls, trees and clouds. “Beauty parlor” (in Korean), repeated (in Chinese).
The swirls and smudges of mint green and raspberry red in “slow, same #7126.” “EZIO Collezione.” Resemble a far-off galaxy in an Isaac Asimov novel. “40% SALE.” All the while suggesting traditional Chinese scroll painting. (The sale also announced in Hangeul.) The objects found in his photographs. Bald, almost featureless manikins (shoeless too, with incompletely articulated toes). Start to form relationships with each other. Before the three shops are parked three sedans. Creating visual games. In white, in metallic beige, in olive green. In his C-prints. Rich girls gaze down from Sorrento’s second floor tables onto the street below. Titled “An Anarchist.” Venus has risen high in a smoky black, cold sky. A mackerel seems to be swimming in a sea of blood. Kiki hair is using “L’Oréal Professionel Paris” products. Calling to mind the political “red herring” syndrome. Pastel dyes and Diacolor tints. Of the Cold War era.
Yet as soon as you start to get carried away with flexing your descriptive muscles. A “Nuancelle Fruit Acid Hair Manicure” display of Apricot, Soft Vanilla, Milk Tea, Smoky Ice, Sweet Grape . . . Moon’s paintings seem to turn back into nothing but cold, unmoving pools of color. The “Diacolor” display of hair samples in “Mahogany, Mahogany Copper, Praline Chestnut, Chocolate, Copper . . .” However suggestive his show’s title may be, his works seem to restrict viewers’ random interpretations. A pretty stylist, in black zip-up top, wedgy black shoes, looks at author/looks away, her lips in bright pink. Moon said at the preview of his show that he didn’t intend his paintings to be landscapes. Her pale face otherwise free of makeup. They just happened to end up looking that way. Now the manager of the shop, in chestnut bouffant, copper blusher, cherry lipstick, steps toward the window to evaluate author’s activity/intentions.
Exactly what Moon’s work is depends upon your point of view — “Chaste” (Jewelers) is showing delicate (and expensive) necklace-earring sets, a silver chameleon, diamond encrusted double heart pins. Whether you think his paintings are just oil stick marks on a piece of wood. Across the street another two-story restaurant (this one Japanese), next door to which “PAT” is offering pastel jackets over horizontally striped shirts (for thin girls), its logo a cute tan rhinoceros. Or lush, inventive landscapes. Two Korean businessmen hustle past, topcoatless, each wearing a tie with gold designs. As an artist who has worked since the 1980s. Author stands to regard “Fila,” which is showing its line of athletic wear. Moon seems remarkably adept at reinventing his media. The block concludes with “NII” (“New York Ivy League Institute”); “Harris Tone”; and opposite: “Rapa Club,” which, like “Plus One” (a former restaurant) has closed. Whether it’s photography or painting.
Followed by “TBJ,” whose Hanguel-less sign advertises “Knit,” “Shirt/T-Shirt,” “Jumper,” all in white prices/black names on a seasonally appropriate light green ground. He oscillates between using controlled and chance processes. “TBJ shoes” are displayed in a vertical rack: little slippers in pink, chartreuse, orange and ’50s black-and-white, all except the last with floral interiors. Suggesting that he’s moved beyond. “Sieg,” next door, is showing pinstriped suits. The confines of purely abstract or purely representational art. Across the intersection “KOOLHAAS,” whose two A’s are inner-lit red. Both seem incapable of creating new images. Has displayed on the side of the building. For abstract art isn’t really exciting anymore. The flags of Iceland, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden. And representational art has simply become a ruse. All labeled in English. Painting an object doesn’t make the depicted reality any more real.
Author, forced to retreat by this chilly March 30 evening, takes refuge in a coffee shop. It’s the ambiguous area in between that he highlights in such an exciting way. Another café across the way, called “Shai,” advertises its offerings with a neon sign, whose “coffee” (carmine), “&” (pale yellow), “drink” (green) are joined as one word. Moon puts viewers in the impossible position of making up their own meanings. The café’s black glass reveals nothing inside. Reminding us that reality is just a blink away. The manager of our own coffee shop crosses the street and disappears into “Shai.” His paintings suggest a motley of visual scenarios. “Head,” “Bunbuster,” “EXR.” So next time you see an iridescent puddle of oil at the gas station. A dark green car reading as black; a black car reflecting the red, yellow and green neon. You’ll be sure to do a double take. In this coffee shop real white-painted branches in a bronzed wicker basket bloom with pink fabric roses.