Otto Bjornik’s Mogu: Kana & Kali

Fans of artist Otto Bjornik’s illustrations know that images of wood elf characters have haunted his work for years. And when a wood elf shows up, one can frequently also spot her anthropomorphic mushroom companion.

The History of the Mogu Characters

Initially known as Shroomie, the mischievous forest mushroom, this character started taking more form as Bjornik prepared for his first solo exhibition, Checkmate++ at the Secret Fresh Gallery in June 2016. While this was timed to celebrate Bjornik’s Shah Mat (2016) pieces produced by Kidrobot (see review here), the artist focused on exploring the Wood Elf and her world in the original works exhibited.

For that showcase, the sitting Kana version debuted in a monochromatic edition of five pieces, displayed alongside a couple of original Wood Elf figures. By the time last year’s New York Comic Con rolled around, Bjornik had created the standing Kali version and renamed them Mogu, the pair releasing in blue and red capped editions at myplasticheart’s booth.
This new name, Mogu, is truly appropriate as it is the Chinese word for mushroom. Which makes me think that the names of these individual sculpts might also hold meaning. Kana is the Hindi word for one-eyed, the aptness being self-evident, while Kali — also a Hindi word — is less evident in reasoning.
Kali means, among other things, “the fullness of time”, which does connect to these Mogu designs as Bjornik describes them as creatures that “can flitter in and out of time and space.” But, of course, the word Kali is most well-known as the name of a Hindu goddess, who is often portrayed standing or dancing… descriptors that perfectly describe this piece’s stance.

My Impressions of the Mogu Figures

The versions I have here were released in October of last year, this Autumn Mischief Edition revealing the Mogu having turned themselves into pumpkins. And this transformation is accomplished through more than simple coloration, as Bjornik added pumpkin stem toppers to their mushroom caps especially for this rendition.

On quick examination of these Mogu pieces, they perfectly capture Bjornik’s strikingly minimalist style. The flowing forms benefit from beautiful small touches, like the individual fingers and toes, the small belly button divot, and the curvature of the buttocks. It’s on the heads that Bjornik really focused his detailing, crafting expressive, cartoonish mouths and perfectly formed mushroom caps.
Intended to be forms that Bjornik could easily cast in resin and hand-paint with only a couple of colors, these are truly affordable works that the artist created for his fans. While Kali stands taller and comes with base that is loosely held in place by magnets, Bjornik counters this for Kana by — at least on this edition — adding a jack-o-lantern detail to the backside.
Hopefully not the last we’ll see of these Mogu figures, I can imagine how beautiful these we appear next to the Wood Elf figure that Bjornik has been working towards releasing with VTSS.

Editions of the Mogu figures [show]

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