Have you ever looked up at the sky only to find yourself being frowned at by a cloud that is passing by? You are not alone. Spotting faces in inanimate objects – like the front of a car, the food you are eating, the facade of a building, or, indeed, different cloud shapes – is a common experience that has been scientifically recognised and is known as ‘pareidolia’.
Olaf Breuning, whose work has been exhibited widely from the Barbican Centre in London to the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, has turned this phenomenon into a creative project. One glance at his Instagram profile reveals an extensive collection of faces that have emerged from the most everyday scenes.
It’s certainly no coincidence that his characters have resonated with people around the world, especially in the wake of the pandemic and induced social isolation. After what feels like one of the darkest years in our recent history, we don’t only build relationships with people – some of us may have found ourselves ‘in conversation’ with the objects around us. Who would have thought that Mrs Frankenpeach, Mr Greeneye, or Mr Pressure would save the day?
Mrs Pleasedonteatme. This berry was spotted by Olaf during one hot summer day in the brutal heat while he was picking strawberries with friends
Mr Greenpeaeyes. While cooking, Olaf discovered an old apple, which already had the features of a face. Luckily, he was cooking green peas and simply placed two of them in the empty eye holes
“Happiness is something we all needed during the pandemic. I want to inspire people with my art, I want them to see the world differently and, most importantly, with a little distance and humour.”
Mrs Cuteandsoft. Bananas are a very good source of potential faces - when cutting them into slices, they often reveal spontaneous hidden features
Mr Friendly. Looking at a lemon from a different angle to reveal it's friendly face.
“I always see faces in things and I always have my iPhone with me.”
Olaf, relaxing after work on his couch with his daughter Aka, who always sits on Olaf while he is resting and demands he tell her a story.
“Home should be a constant love affair. A cosy nest where good energies reside.”
Olaf standing in front of a finished painting in one of his studios that he calls his office. All of his paintings are about the relationship between us and nature.
“I am someone who sees my house as a part of myself, a physical manifestation of who I am.”
Olaf standing in front of his house and holding a stick with an umbrella mounted on top. He used it to pick pears from a tree. It’s a simple solution for not having a tall ladder. Next to Olaf is a stone sculpture he made.