Love in Sadness: an analysis of self-portraits

Striking is that in this drama, we can witness the birth of a painting. The beholder usually only gets to see the start or the end product but not a work in progress. Nevertheless, we saw here two paintings that were not finished and each time, the finished work revealed the real state of mind of our heroine YMR, as both creations were named as a self-portrait. The difference between the paintings underlined that something had happened to our painter. But now, let’s take a closer look to these paintings. The first “Self-Portrait” was used in the first episode.

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A cistus: episode 1 (the painting is unfinished, right after this taking, due to KIW’s remark, YMR gives the picture a name: ” A self-portrait”
The painting “A self-portrait” is now finished. We learn here the meaning of the cistus: I’ll die tomorrow.

Looking at the first picture, we can observe two things:

  • the darkness of the picture: we see a dead wood, she even used a lot of black and brown
  • First, we have two flowers. Furthermore their white color contrast so much to the surrounding. Since the flowers are blossomed, they indicate that their withering is about to happen, especially due to the environment.

So since it is a self-portrait, it actually symbolizes her actual situation: she is in a terrible situation. Her husband is embodied by the dead wood, he can not bring her happiness and life, actually he is the reason why she is perishing. Her world is cold and she feels lonely. There is no light, so there is no hope. The choice of a white flower and the number of cistus caught my attention because in the episode 12, she said that the flowers represent her heart and tears. It looks like back then YMR had lost all her energy hence there are only two flowers. Due to her desperate situation, she can not even cry. She is withering like a flower…
So the first version wasn’t just depressing because of the dark colors and the environment. Even the choice of the flower was pessimistic: I’ll die tomorrow. However, in the finale version, the beholder observes a huge difference: the flowers are burning. This indicates that not only her situation has even worsened but also her despair has increased. She is literally screaming for help and if no one can see this, then she will die. Moreover, the fire could be perceived as a final attempt from her part. She will leave her husband and if she doesn’t succeed, then she is even willing to die, to get burned. So she is well aware of her husband’s outburst, if she leaves him again.

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episode 10:
The painting is called “A Self-Portrait Part Two” the first and unfinished version

In the second self-portrait, we also saw a first version (third picture above). Striking is the presence of wood, just like in the first self-portrait. Nevertheless, the wood is different. Here YMR used a table, unlike in the first painting where it looks more like a dead wood. Moreover, there is a presence of a human being in this picture due to the cup of tea and the letter envelope indicating that there is life in this picture. Finally, our painter chose to draw anemones in her painting. She even drew more anemones than cistus. Since the flower is red and the color red is associated to blood and life, I come to the conclusion that YMR’s state of mind has already changed. She has been brought back to life, since the painting is already oozing more life. The first version is still dark, although the beholder can see a ray of sunshine on the table. Yet the light is barely visible. Furthermore the message behind the anemone is “May I confess my love for you?” which illustrates that her heart has started beating again. She is no longer lifeless and loveless. Like she said to SJW, the flowers symbolizes her tears and heart. She can cry now. She has started caring for SJW. Due to the presence of wood in this self-portrait, we can come to the conclusion that YMR hasn’t been able to cut ties entirely with KIW, he is still affecting her life. The wood reveals that she is still suffering from a trauma.

episode 11: “A Self-Portrait Part Two”, the final version

The final version mirrors the evolution of her mental health. It looks like the flowers are actually growing from the table. YMR is able to remove little by little her bad memories, recover these with new good memories. Notice that this time, the flowers are painted with green leaves indicating that the flowers are not cut or put on the table, they look as if they were really alive. Then the ray of sunshine is much more pronounced this time. The dark and gloomy atmosphere has entirely disappeared. There is now more hope. YMR is not back to her old self, yet she has changed a lot. She is alive, feeling many emotions. The presence of a living person is also more visible than in the first version. Now, we see a letter with a feather. It was as if YMR had just left the table. Since YMR is not able to paint herself, this shows how much YMR suffered under KIW. She had lost her identity and her own personality, yet this time, YMR has found the courage to show to the world that she exists with different items: the envelopes, the letter and the feather. Naturally, she has another reason now, not to draw her face, since she has received the face of WHK. This second self-portrait still outlines her identity loss but unlike in the first self-portrait, the beholder can realize that YMR is searching for her own identity. She is trying with all her might to find her own place that’s what the growing flowers are representing. The flowers are trying to find their place in that table, it looks like the flowers want to cover the table, a symbol for her attempt to forget her painful experience and memories. As conclusion, YMR is no longer pessimistic and desperate. She is alive, feeling many positive emotions and she is hoping that she can leave her past behind.

When YMR offered SJW her self-portrait, SJW could connect her painting to the famous painting of Frida Kahlo, a famous Mexican painter. Both characters were referring to that following picture, the wounded deer:

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Frida Kahlo: wounded deer, 1946

Back then, Frida Kahlo had just been surged on her spine but her surgery had not been successful. Unlike in YMR’s self-portraits, Frida used an animal in order to represent herself. However, the deer has her face. Notice how the surroundings can give us a clue about Frida Kahlo’s state of mind. The forest looks lifeless, the trees are leafless, even one tree has lost a branch which lies on the ground. The dead nature embodies broken body of the painter. Furthermore, the colors (brown and beige) give a gloomy and pessimistic impression. The sun is not visible, just like there is no wave in the sea. All these elements put together make the beholder feel that there is no life and no energy. Frida Kahlo is heartbroken and broken physically. Moreover, the painter used an unreal perspective for the wounded deer. It doesn’t look like it is standing on its feet, but it doesn’t look like it is lying on the ground either. In my opinion, Frida wants to underline how terrible her physical situation is: she is not really paralyzed but she can not move freely either. She can not rest in the end. The arrows symbolize the surgery and the pain in her spine due to the surgery as the arrows are situated all around her spine. As you can see, the deer mirrors Frida Kahlo’s situation and feelings as the deer has Frida’s face. The Mexican painter is feeling powerless and she is showing her pain and despair to the world through her painting. YMR is in a different situation as she has lost her identity, unlike Frida Kahlo, that’s why the flowers have no face at all or there is no human being represented among her flowers. However, I am expecting YMR to be capable to drew a third self-portrait later which will be similar to her first painting that KIW saw in the beginning.

A woman holding a sword lily

We know that this week, YMR will leave SJW’s side as she will use WHK’s death to her advantage. By forcing SJW to declare WHK dead, KIW will be cornered. WHK was the only link to his wife’s whereabouts. For her, this departure will have a huge impact as she will be able to free herself completely from KIW.

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