The subjects in Korean artist Han Young Wook’s photorealistic portraits are ordinary people, their life experiences hinted at in age spots, pores, wrinkles, unkempt white hair and crooked teeth, their emotions revealed in soulful eyes and subtle facial expressions. The paintings celebrate humanity in all of its imperfections and invite the viewer to wonder about who the people are, what they have been through and how they feel. The paintings invite empathy, evoke compassion.
I also mentioned this idea of celebrating humanity in all its imperfections when writing about the hyperrealistic sculptures of Sam Jinks. Perhaps, as I am starting to get ‘old’, I am trying to put a positive spin on the effects of the aging process. A more negative interpretation would be to say that the artist “lays bare” or “boldly exposes” our flaws and imperfections. I think I will stick with ‘celebrate’ for now 🙂
Han Young-Wook’s large paintings are produced through an interesting and painstaking process that ends up giving them a glittery, metallic sheen:
- The artist imprints the lines of the image on aluminium foil using a ballpoint pen.
- The next step involves working brownish oil paints onto the imprinted image.
- A fine needle is then used to scratch the painted aluminium, creating the finely detailed textures that make the paintings look so realistic.
– Click on each image to see a higher resolution
version (2048 x 1365) on Flickr –
At this exhibition—Art Central 2016—the paintings attracted a lot of attention and aroused the visitors’ curiosity. The exhibition-goers tended to first view Han Young-Wook’s work from a distance and then move up to within inches of the painting to get a close look at the textures and scratches.
In the painting Stranger (detail view shown below), a more negative view of humanity is presented. The painting is packed with people, but there is no interaction at all. They are strangers; they exist as part of a crowd but are caught up in their own cares and concerns and oblivious to those around them.
More on Han Young-Wook
Han, Young-Wook, the Beauty of Our Mortal Life : This article by Seo Seong-rok gives a lot more insight into the artist’s philosophy.
Oil on Aluminum Scratch Art by Han Young-Wook: A short article showing several paintings
~photos and text by Stephen Richards (longzijun)
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