Essays

Modern Surrealism

Words By Sheila Lam

 

How do you lead a beautiful life? During the 17th and 18th centuries, European philosophers believed life should be lived as a work of art – that seeking beauty through the pursuits of art, literature, music, and thought would guide one to their fullest potential. You needn’t look much farther than Monos creator Minh T to understand this. As a self-identified modern Surrealist, Minh captures the beauty in every corner of our world and lives the life he imagines.

 

The Vietnam-born East Coast-raised photographer took a traditional path in architecture and engineering, but soon found his calling in graphic design and later, photography. “Whether I worked with brands on graphic design or creating images, I was always weaving a story for them,” he says. “In my head, I was always creating worlds.” Soon after, Minh began experimenting on his own with what is now @thismintymoment. “When I first created this Instagram account, I didn’t tell anyone because it felt pretentious,” he says, referring to a bout of imposter syndrome many of us are familiar with. “But it sort of took off and became its own thing.”

Scrolling through Minh’s photos, it’s hard to believe they’re not images rendered on a computer from pure imagination. Familiar man-made structures are set against surreal backdrops of whirling seas and unending fields of tall grass. Surrealism is a kind of art that focuses on the various aspects of the subconscious, including the waking mind and the willingness to commit oneself to something different. Minh’s work mirrors all that and strikes a chord of some intangible evocation. “My aesthetic is about timelessness, simplicity, nature, architecture, and escapism,” he says. “What inspires me is discovering the hidden beauty in the everyday – in the mundane environments that already exist around us.”

 

Now based in Lisbon with his partner and two dogs, Minh is exploring completely different landscapes and a new way of life. “I moved to Portugal to escape the rat race. I’m not out there for the money anymore,” he confesses. “The pandemic gave me a re-examination on what makes me happy. I realized I didn’t like the competitive nature of living in Los Angeles. I wanted more time to explore and just be in the moment.”

Having moved with only a few pieces of luggage, Minh’s take on life now is less about belongings and more about relationships. “In Portugal, the focus is on friendships and simple connections. We connect with each other by being together in the moment, not on status or money. It’s about enjoying each other's company, and I truly love that.”

As a movement, Surrealism entices people through curiosity. Like the philosophers during the Age of Enlightenment, it encourages people to develop a deeper understanding of themselves. It is multi-faceted, rejects convention, and allows us to explore our psyches. We can use the same words at every turn to describe Minh T’s work and how he’s chosen to create his life. An endless scroll of possibilities, @thismintymoment is truly beautiful. ■

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