Galleries | Cate McQuaid

Perspectives and portals in paint at Steven Zevitas Gallery

“Goodbye for Now” by Paige Jiyoung Moon.
“Goodbye for Now” by Paige Jiyoung Moon.

The adroit precision of Paige Jiyoung Moon’s diaristic paintings at Steven Zevitas Gallery lends them credence as objective reportage: Here are people at the laundromat, or the artist’s parents watching TV.

But what reality is this? Space subtly tilts or warps. Patterns and textures buzz. Images within the paintings — on screens, book covers, and wall hangings — suggest we’ve momentarily alighted on holding ground amid an infinite network of pictorial worlds, with other travelers we barely speak to.

That idea is literal in “Goodbye for Now,” which depicts an airport gate. Moon anchors the scene with the grain on the wood floor, a man’s checked green shirt, a woman’s polka-dotted carry-on, and dozens of other painstaking details. She has a Matissean obsession with textiles and decor.


The painting is less than a foot square, the people only an inch or two tall. The steep perspective makes them seem even smaller, or us even bigger. They sit by a window looking out to the tarmac and the sky, where space shifts and opens. The world, and the possibility of escape, beckon.

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Windows, mirrors, and screens read as portals. Two young women lounge on a bed in the foreground of “Everyday Drama.” They watch a cooking show on a laptop set on a desk. A mirrored wall behind the desk dramatically expands the cramped space, inviting us in. In the reflection, the women face us. One lies on her side like an art-historical odalisque, but she is not here for our delectation. She does not meet our gaze. She’d rather watch the laptop.

These paintings invite study: Jewel-like and enigmatic, they often depict social disconnection — many people in one place, each caught up in his or her own world. But the show’s delicate portraits reconnect us. “Carlos” looks out from the cocoon of his tied blue hoodie, candid and mildly amused. “Kowoon” appears sly and appraising. “Study me?” she seems to be thinking. “I’ll study you.”


At Steven Zevitas Gallery, 450 Harrison Ave., through Jan. 13. 617-778-5265,

Cate McQuaid can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @cmcq.