Walking through the streets of New York City is undoubtedly a miraculous thing. Every step in the city can yield something beautiful and completely unexpected if you’re looking as transcendent moments and compelling human interactions are everywhere, whether you are directly in the moment or simply a casual spectator and witness.

When the artist Yves Tessier ventures out in his neighborhood of Harlem, where he lives and works, or traverses other parts of town, he is almost always wearing a camera strapped around his neck to document the fabulous spectacle. As Tessier walks and explores the streets, he also obsessively shoots photos of the scenes, people, and unexpected situations that he steps into or encounters. Some photos are shot blindly off his chest, and others are more composed and direct.

Back at home, all of the digital images are edited and whittled down to find the strongest subjects and imagery to reconfigure and incorporate into his cinematic, dusty-satin casein paintings. Appropriating himself, and also the lives and moments he comes across outdoors, Tessier painstakingly paints candid street scenes full of stylized, but highly-relatable humans existing together and crossing paths for his new exhibition Pedestrians. The paintings all feel like true slices of life in NYC, but they also highlight Yves Tessier’s very unique hand and take on the people that make the city so special.

It’s uncanny that Tessier’s medium of choice, casein paint– or milk paint– was a favorite material used by artisans and artists in ancient Egypt, used to document their daily lives and concepts of deities. Like Egyptian relics, Tessier’s paintings have a very flattened feeling despite inferring depth, and many of the works highlight individuals with heads in profile and bodies frozen in motion. This affinity is intentional, as Tessier has a deep knowledge of art history, and every figure he conceives has been meticulously simplified and stylized to create a symbolic, but still representational, persona.

With every scene and in the expressions on the faces of Yves Tessier’s New York pedestrians, we are gifted a glimpse into the mindsets, emotions, and energy of the countless and nameless individuals we pass every day in life and in this city.

Yves Tessier (b. 1955) is a Canadian-born artist who maintains studios in Montreal and New York City. Pedestrians is his fourth exhibition with Shrine, and he has had recent solo exhibitions with McBride Contemporain (Montreal) and and inclusion in many group shows and also his first museum acquisition.