Hyung Koo Kang's Burning Gaze

Singapore Art Museum has 3 galleries dedicated to an ongoing exhibition of Hyung Koo Kang's art. 

This Korean artist does hyper-realistic portraits, breathtakingly large ones. Human faces become topographical maps of textures and colours. He invites us to see faces, to peer into eyes, to really appreciate how people look. 

It's always easy to glance without seeing, particularly faces. I remember reading about how most people are uncomfortable with looking at others' faces, unwilling to see and be seen. People do have uncomfortable relationships with the way they appear. 

It is this topic that the artist devote his life to. Not still lifes nor abstraction nor sculptures. But portraits.  

An incisive blogger - Woon Tai Ho - wrote a brilliant piece on Hyung's larger-than-life paintings. 

Our engagement with these murals-portraits changes as we delve into their colours. From an initial apprehension - who wouldn't be intimidated by such unflinching gazes? - we gradually recognise a curiosity that may be described as scientific.

How did Hyung paint that glimmer in the eyes? Are those unfettered hair painted or scratched?

"The human face seems to embody a boundlessly wide range of possible experiences. And not only that, the face is continuously changing and evolving with every instance of an event and such changes are a natural phenomenon that is the first and foremost representative of a person's life as well as a sign of one's thoughts. As the single body part that most effectively represent a human being, the face is unique without a doubt and serves as the primary means to identify a person's identity apart from another."

And so, we look, wonder.