Passersby, Gaze, August Painting by Jaeyeol Han

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Art Description

Painting: Oil, Oil Bar, Canvas on Canvas.

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough

-Ezra Pound

Sometimes, while walking through the crowded streets of a large city, it can be easy to forget that the people we pass are also going somewhere, meeting someone, or hoping for something. Those people are also ervous, happy, anxious and sad. We walk by each other thinking little of the other pedestrians, hardly seeing their aces, rarely wondering where they are going or who they are. We often just focus on ourselves. Artist Han Jae Yeol, however, pays attention to the passers-by and has introduced us to them in his paintings. “During my military service, I was dispatched to Haiti’s peacekeeping unit in response to the earthquakes.” Han said, “what was happening there was contained in {the Haitians} faces.”

He continued, “I collected those faces and that’s how it began.”

Though we are many, we are also individuals. Han hasn’t forgotten the importance and beauty of individuality. “A Crowd of humans flowing like a body of water,” Han says in his blog “negates individual energy and dissolves their existence.” Walking amongst a group of people makes us less likely to focus on any one individual. While Han walks amongst a crowd of people, he often begins retreating further into himself. His work is a response to that inward focus. Since his service in Haiti, he has turned his energy outward and created his project; a collection that encompasses over 300 paintings. Han believes that artists must “pay close attention to things, to give them the attention they deserve.” Han gives consideration to the “existential energy” of the people he observes and looks to capture its presence with oil paints. “I was first interested in the structural qualities of the human face,” Han said, “but later realized that this interest rose from a primitive force exerted from faces.” He decided to work with paint despite it being a traditional medium. Painting, Han feels, is the best way “to capture brief existences born between image and spontaneity.”

Han’s work doesn’t show details of the subject’s face. The final outcome looks similar to what we may remember when trying to recall a face with which we are not familiar. Han’s portraits are blurred with color expressing the “existential energy” he sees in a person’s face. Han reveals the subject’s emotions and energy with the colors that he chooses to use.

His work also speaks of a larger societal issue. “We avoid human relations,” Han said, “our lifecycles change to make living alone more comfortable and convenient.”

He believes living too much within ourselves isn’t healthy, and we must communicate with others more often. “The age of excluding the others is over, but now the self exhausts the self, and violence is returned into the self.” Han’s work looks to expose this idea of the self, and to give us an experience with the faces we rarely take the time to examine. His paintings remind us that sometimes you should take a closer look at the people around you. The discoveries you can make with this simple act may surprise you.

[b]racket magazine Whit Altizer 2014

“It is the job of the artist to pay close attention to things, to give them the attention they deserve. This series of paintings shows a distinction about the power of existence when complete strangers become objects of interest to me."



Passersby, Gaze, August

Jaeyeol Han

South Korea


Size: 17.7 W x 17.7 H x 2 in

This artwork is not for sale.





Artist Recognition

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Artist featured in a collection

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Featured in One to Watch

Artist Recognition

Artist featured in a collection

Artist featured by Saatchi Art in a collection

Featured in One to Watch

Featured in Saatchi Art's curated series, One To Watch