• Erika Argiolas

Metaphysical Worlds of Moonassi

Moonassi, aka Kim Daehyun , was born in Seoul in 1980 and is an award-winning illustrator. The artist studied Korean painting at Hongik University and during his studies he began to create a series of illustrations bearing the same pseudonym as the title.

In Korean, moonaa is phonetically similar to a phrase that means "there is no such thing as me" or "empty", while the suffix -ssi is commonly used when people are addressing each other in Korea. The artist explains that when people call him Moonassi, it is as if they are calling someone who has no identity.

This concept leads us to reflect on his series of illustrations, which are constantly presented in black and white and which seem to talk precisely about identity. His drawings are a continuous dialogue between us and our self, and the contrast between black and white only underlines it. The presence of these two colours further intensifies the contrast within his designs, a struggle between light and shadow that creates intensity.

Moonassi's black and white illustrations are simple but powerful, created as a kind of homage to negative space commonly seen in oriental art. At the same time, his images also channel the Buddhist philosophy of emptiness. Unlike Western culture, the Buddhist idea of ​​emptiness has no negative connotations, but instead represents infinite possibilities and an awakened mind. His soft yet incisive drawing lines are able to tell us about an existential condition, an intimacy that needs to be expressed.

His illustrations transport us into a microcosm made of peace and tranquility that each of us carries inside hidden somewhere. The expressionless facial features of his characters are influenced by his fascination with ancient Buddhist art in which the divine entity is often shown in a state of deep meditation with an impassive mask-like face and this is recognizable by the shape of the lobes of the slightly elongated ears, round head, slightly half-closed eyes, whose hieratic expression recalls precisely that peace and calm typical of the Buddha.

This sense of tranquility is not only given by the reference to the Buddhist image or by the gentle lines and the presence of this black colour that almost dazzles; probably the main factor is that this serenity is transmitted by the fact that we do not find anything else in his illustrations that could distract us. Our eyes are led to focus on the main concept of the images that appear surreal and metaphysical: we seem to be in a dream world.

As you may have noticed, all of his characters are the same. Moonassi aims to create the same identity with which to have a confrontation, as if he's trying to invite us to look in the mirror. His characters are also devoid of emotions and this - according to the artist - makes it impossible for viewers to understand whether the scene represented in his illustration is "good or bad".

The black and minimalist dresses, all the same, without any distinction shifts the viewer's attention towards the gestures and actions of each individual character represented.

“We’re all the same in the dark, and it must be true in the day light as well.”

We perceive neither space nor time. The sexuality of the characters is not known and Moonassi intentionally omits it. Moonassi's minimal style allows his art to be easily accessible to a wide audience. However, the fascinating sense of mystery that his surreal world emanates invites them to look beyond the surface of his art.

At the beginning of his career, Moonassi did not believe that his drawings had anything special or unique. On the contrary, he humbly argues that initially all he had accomplished was the certainty of remaining persistent and wanted to maintain as clear as possible the vision of the type of work he wanted to accomplish. He himself has no idea when the Moonassi series will end or be completed, he himself tells us:

"I’d also like to know how the Moonassi series ends. It will only end when I stop having new ideas and stories. I’d like to try something else for sure, but let see where this brings us.”

I think that Moonassi helps us to seek the meaning of our existence within a monochromatic reality that brings a metaphysical silence where a note of light fascinates us. What do you think?


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