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Haam Juhae

Work / Illustration

Haam Juhae is attracted to watercolours as “complete control is impossible”

“A drawing is evidence of everyday life,” says the Seoul-based illustrator Haam Juhae. “It is a metaphor for the air that you feel but cannot touch,” he poetically describes. Known for his beautiful watercolours that convey the sky at any time of day, Haam captures the intensity of the horizon and the subtlety of the clouds in his atmospheric illustrations.

He analogises the art of illustration with the oxymoronic term “concrete ambiguity”. It’s a term that makes sense upon viewing his watercolour works of the sky which are wholly recognisable yet abstract at the same time. For Haam, “watercolours are attractive because complete control is impossible”, he tells It’s Nice That. Though it seems as if he possesses total control of the image at hand, the medium’s ability to blend colours beautifully suits the illustrator’s subject of the scenery around him.

In essence, Haam sums up what he does by saying: “In the end, I draw the air. I ‘arrange’ air in a space that makes up a picture which, in turn, provides a place for each of the emotions that exist around us.” Each illustration stimulates a different feeling in an individual depending on their subjective experiences. Haam also attaches a philosophical angle to his paintings that capture a fleeting moment of the sky in that moment. He comments on how “the air is constantly scattered” and moving, and as a result, his “landscapes are never completed”. In turn, this represents “the anxiety and relief that everything is not going to stay intertwined” as it is inevitable that things will always change.

His art does not seek to answer questions definitively, but rather, Haam is “interested in the atmosphere that is in it”. He draws out these tensions within his moody watercolours: “I love the tension of heavy rain, clouds, summer and evening too,” he adds. “When I draw a scene without a person, I imagine people who have just stayed there and then disappeared. It is the same when I draw rain, clouds, summer and evening. I draw the picture, imagining what has just disappeared and all the pictures form a collection that can be gathered to become a story.” As a result, Haam’s atmospheric illustrations combine storytelling, painting as well as “the collection of air”.

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