Every step on the streets of New York City can yield something beautiful and completely unexpected if you’re paying attention. Transcendent moments and compelling human interactions are everywhere, whether you are directly in the moment or simply a casual spectator or 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 carrying a camera with him to document the fabulous spectacle of this city.

As Tessier walks and explores NYC, he obsessively shoots photos of the people, scenes and unexpected situations that he steps into or encounters. Many photos are shot blindly off the hip, and others are more composed and direct. Back at the studio, all of the digital images are edited and whittled down to find the most interesting subjects and imagery to reconfigure and incorporate into his cinematic, lime-casein paintings. Appropriating himself, and also the lives and moments he comes across outdoors, Tessier painstakingly paints candid street scenes full of highly-relatable humans crossing paths and existing together. The paintings all feel like a true slice of life in NYC, and they display Tessier’s unique artistic hand and vantage of the people that make the city so special.

Yves Tessier’s medium of choice, casein paint– or milk paint– was a favorite material used by artisans and artists in ancient Egypt to document their daily lives and concepts of deities. Like Egyptian relics, Tessier’s paintings have a very flat feel to them even when inferring depth, and many of the works highlight individuals with heads in profile and bodies frozen sideways in motion. The 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 given a glimpse into the mindsets, emotions and energy of the countless and nameless individuals we pass every day in life, and in this city.