This is where you can read the manhwa. https://www.lezhin.com/en/comic/painter
But be aware that this manhwa is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes.
Now, you might be wondering if this analysis isn’t a repetition of my other analyses because I have already pointed out the importance of the gaze in this manhwa. Yet, I should have actually analyzed these two chapters much earlier because here the significance of the gaze is literally revealed and the reader is able to understand the role played by the eyes. Now, you are questioning which chapters I am referring to.
Before revealing it, I would like to reexplain the function of the gaze based on the theory from Jean Paul Sartres, a famous French philosopher and writer from the 20th Century because it is indispensable in order to understand the analysis. This repetition is necessary since people might have already forgotten it or didn’t read the analysis where I explicated it.
In Sartres’ theater play “No Exit” (“Huis Clos” in French), the three protagonists Joseph Garcin, Inez Serrano, and Estelle Rigault, are dead and their damned souls are brought to the same room in Hell where there is no mirror. As they are locked inside by a mysterious valet, they are confronted with their own reflection through the gaze from the others. Here, in this deformed reflection, the three sinners are unable to accept what they see that’s why at some point Garcin concludes that “”hell is other people” (“l’enfer c’est les autres”) because the judgement perceived through the gaze of people makes it unbearable for the “sinners”. They avoid the gaze because they can’t face their own wrongdoings and flaws. In other words, the gaze serves as a mirror, however there is a lot of subjectivity in it and doesn’t truly reflect the reality. Now, you understand why Yoon Seungho felt so excited and attracted by his own gaze in the first painting as he saw himself in a different reflection. There was no negative judgement and it oozed attraction and beauty. He no longer saw himself as a “sinner” in the painting, however this is how he felt before when people looked at him. Therefore he didn’t enjoy company very much, only went out for sex parties as it was necessary to maintain his reputation as a hell-raiser.
And now, we come to the chapters where the gaze becomes essential and marks a turning point in Yoon Seungho’s life. From my perspective, the sex session in the chapters 14 and 15 reflects the decision of the powerful noble to seduce the painter. The painting becomes as such more or less obsolete, it gives him just an excuse to get close to the low-born. This explains why Yoon Seungho starts with Baek Na-Kyum’s masturbation in the chapter 16 representing the first real success in his seduction.
Now let’s take a closer look to the sex session between Jihwa and his childhood friend. Striking is that Jihwa refuses to kiss the seme because he is upset. Earlier, he was reminded that he only visited his childhood friend because of sex which is not correct. Jihwa loves him hence he was willing to have sex with him. Though the red-haired noble had been humiliated and his feelings somehow denied, Jihwa couldn’t help himself to give in and came as asked that night. However, this time it is different because for the first time, Jihwa is looking at Seungho’s gaze. He wants to know about his friend’s emotions. So his eyes are not close unlike in the drawing above.
However, if you look carefully, you’ll note an important detail. Jihwa places his hand in front of his mouth meaning that he is not dropping his mask. Furthermore, from Seungho’s place, it makes it much harder to notice Jihwa’s gaze. Simply put, Seungho can not see Jihwa’s gaze very well, whereas it is the opposite for the sex partner. Here, we can detect why Jihwa failed to seduce Seungho in the end. He never showed his true feelings in front of him, either he closed his eyes or faked his facial expression or put his hand in front of his face. Yoon Seungho could never see the positive reflection in his childhood friend’s eyes. This is what Jihwa witnesses, an amused lord.
He is not bothered that Jihwa refused to kiss him, he decided to concentrate his lips on something else. He is teasing his sex partner, well aware of the affect of his kisses on Jihwa. Yet he doesn’t pay attention to Jihwa’s blushing as he keeps teasing him.
And note that all this time, the red-haired man has his hand up as if he was afraid of revealing his feelings. I do think that Jihwa feared that his affection for Seungho could be exploited by the latter and considered it as a weakness, especially if the childhood friend had no feelings for him. What he failed to realize is that his friend was longing for love all along. So his mask was the reason why the protagonist could never see the love Jihwa had for him. However, their little interlude is interrupted by the painter’s arrival which dampens Jihwa’s mood, unlike the seme. While he is fingering Jihwa’s butt, the former is looking over his shoulder in the painter’s direction.
Striking is that the red-haired noble notices it quite right away
but because of the strong fingering, he is no longer able to focus on the seme’s gaze. As you can witness, the red-haired noble has a different attitude compared to before. He is paying attention to the protagonist’s facial expression and his gaze because he has been warned by his “friend”. This reinforces my impression that before the appearance of Baek Na-Kyum, Jihwa must have always closed his eyes. Because the anal massage was stronger, Jihwa was not able to understand the true meaning behind this action. He must have felt that he had been mistaken and Seungho was not concentrated on the painter’s presence any longer. However, I see it differently. The protagonist reacted like that in order to provoke an reaction on the painter’s face.
As always, the chronology of the pictures is important. Notice that right after this drawing, Byeonduck added the following picture.
He is turning his head and eyes in the direction of the painter as if he was telling him: “Imagine, I would treat you like that, if your places were exchanged”. At the same time, he is definitely curious to witness the uke’s facial expression.
And this is what Seungho views: Baek Na-Kyum is like hypnotized, he is not moving his brush and his gaze is directed at the seme’s eyes. Notice here again that this is the perspective from the main lead, it was as if the beholder had become one with the protagonist. We can conclude that they are looking at each other trying to perceive the soul behind the eyes but simultaneously their own reflection. How does the other judge me? Am I also a sinner?
All this time, Jihwa was too excited to notice the subtle exchange of gazes, hence after the first ejaculation, he is asked to do a fellatio. During this occasion, Jihwa can look again at Seungho’s gaze and what he observes annoys him the most. He sees that Seungho is starring (again) at the painter which means that the noble is neglecting his sex partner. Each time, the powerful lord wants to examine the painter’s reaction and look at his gaze, as if he was drawn to the uke’s eyes. We could even say that both gazes seem to have a hypnotic effect, they help them to unveil their deeply repressed unconscious. Besides their hypnotic gaze serves as a mirror, they see each other as attractive and alluring. There is no contempt and disdain, they perceive themselves as normal and natural, unaware of the effect caused by the gaze. This could be judged as an contradiction to Sartres’ theory, sometimes the gaze from the other can liberate oneself.
What Jihwa detects triggers an old memory then we get a flashback from the sex partner who got dragged to the courtyard by the powerful seme as he kept starring at the painter.
Now, you recognize that Seungho’s stare gives the impression to the beholder that he is under hypnosis hence he can’t stop himself looking at the painter. I believe that the trance is triggered by the eyes. The gaze reveals the reflection of themselves and the alluring gaze from the other helping them to unleash their sexual repressed desires. That’s why Jihwa thinks that he needs to do something unusual in order to break their locked gaze.
In his arrogance, the red-haired man thinks that he has achieved it
because of the seme’s strong thrusting but he is totally wrong because right from the start, the sex session was actually destined to the painter. The protagonist wanted to provoke a sexual reaction in Baek Na-Kyum unconsciously therefore the lord’s gaze is returning immediately to the artist’s direction. Jihwa doesn’t get aware that he is truly a toy and a tool.
For the first time, Baek Na-Kyum is not left unaffected.
He is sweating, blushing but simultaneously he is not avoiding the master’s stare. He keeps looking at him. I think that the strong stimuli with the masturbation, anal massage and the thrusting have been triggered by the uke’s passiveness. My explanation is the following. Due to the coercive persuasion, Yoon Seungho needed to give a stronger excitement in order to arouse some sexual desires in the low-born as the painter’s unconscious had been deeply repressed which he truly achieves in the end.
While the chapter 14 was focused on the Seungho’s gaze and his perception, we get the sex session from the painter’s view in the chapter 15. Here, we witness the inner struggle the painter has because he needs to hide his sexual arousal. What caught my attention in this chapter is not just the painter’s inner thoughts but also the position of the characters.
Let’s start with the position of the characters. We saw in the chapter 14, how the rejected sex partner saw the exchange of gazes while they were about to have sex. Now, compare it with the image from the chapter 15. By contrasting both images, the beholder detect the difference in the distance. It was as if Seungho had got closer to Baek Na-Kyum. However, we have to imagine that this is just an impression due to the perspective. Nonetheless it reflects their increasing closeness. Little by little, the noble is definitely getting closer with his seduction but just virtually. We have to remember that each sexual gesture is addressed to the young painter. The climax of their developing intimacy represents the following picture.
And this is the reason why during the chapter 15, Seungho’s body comes closer to the painter, although it is not for real. The cause for this change is the effect of the trance, the hypnotic gaze is much stronger than the last time. They have not been interrupted and unlike in the past, Seungho has also changed his attitude towards the painter too. He had already marked him as his future prey in the chapter 12, when he scratched him on the nape of the neck.
That’s the reason why the commoner remembers this gesture in the chapter 15 but for the uke, this scratching had a different signification: it was a thread, a blackmail. People would leave a hickey in order to mark their “possession” but this action underlines Yoon Seungho’s rough side. Besides, he is not close enough to leave a hickey yet.
Now, let’s go back to the position of the characters. If we compare the drawing in purple to the second one, not only the distance between the painter and the noble has been reduced but also the color is different. The purple on the left represents the artist’s mind, his unconscious has resurfaced but the low-born is fighting against his repressed sexual desires. The darker the color, the stronger the desires. That’s why the commoner is talking to himself with closed eyes. If his eyes are closed, his soul and unconscious can not be unveiled. This underlines the importance of the eyes one more time. The eye serves as a boundary between the unconscious and the conscious.
Then if we study the chronology of the drawings in the chapter 15, the readers catch the signification of the closed eyes on the painter’s side. First, we hear his inner thoughts because he has problem to paint that’s why he keeps looking down and avoids the seme’s gaze.
He is sexually aroused so that he can’t focus on the painting. Yet, he is forced to look up as he has to paint something. On the other hand, his facial expression reveals his inner struggle and his arousal.
This doesn’t escape the sharp eyes of our protagonist hence there is this light in his eyes reflecting interest and excitement.
In that moment, the hypnotic gaze starts again which explains why the painter can’t move for a while and keeps staring at the lord.
Then the uke tries to break the locked gaze and looks down again. So his only mean to fight this hypnotic gaze is to avoid to look up and keep talking to himself. But this is not enough because Jihwa is moaning the lord’s name. Therefore he closes his eyes, yet the attraction to succumb to his repressed sexual desires has increased one more time. His mind has already started fantasying which requires an immense strength of will, to resist, particularly when the uke has the impression that Seungho is having sex right in front of his face.
The sexual arousal is visible and the painter is trying to convince himself that the seme is not interested in him, yet his intuition is telling him the opposite. As you can discern, the readers get a glimpse of the artist’s inner thoughts, while they view the lack of effectiveness in his methods to resist his repressed sexual desires. At the same time, I have the feeling that the picture above could represent the perspective of the master which would contradict the words Baek Na-Kyum is saying to himself.
Then the temptation reaches its peak, when the painter is even imagining that Seungho has come so close to him and this time he is alone, reflecting that he is about to succumb to the desire. The hypnotic gaze did work in reality and Baek Na-KYum’s unconscious has almost been unleashed. Since nothing is working (looking down, then closing the eyes and talking to himself in order to persuade himself that all this is a delusion), he starts thinking of his teacher Jung In-Hun.
This image represents the memory of Jung In-Hun’s arrival. What caught my attention here is that the spectator doesn’t see the teacher’s eyes. It was as if they were closed. Sure, one might think that it is just due to the smile. However, this image gives an opportunity to outline different aspects:
– Jung In-Hun is avoiding Baek Na-Kyum’s gaze because he doesn’t want to show his soul… Remember that the eyes are the mirror of the soul.
– The disappearance of the eyes could mirror the true value of the painter in the teacher’s opinion. Since the eyes are closed, there is no reflection which means that there is no person in front of him. It was as if the low noble was denying the artist’s existence.
– Finally this contradicts the reality. The teacher’s smile was fake and what the artist thinks as a reality is actually the real delusion. This was Jung In-Hun’s true face. He looked down on the painter. Imagine the irony of the situation. He is truly fighting his natural sexual desires with a delusion, whereas his unconscious has already understood the signals sent by the seme. The latter is truly interested and attracted by the low-born.
– The absence of the gaze marks the end of the hypnotic effect. The coercive persuasion has been done so well that Baek NA-Kyum is totally immersed in this image and his own delusional world. Furthermore, this explicates why the low-born couldn’t remember the teacher’s gaze in the chapter 2. The low noble had never looked him in the eye because he would have revealed his true thoughts, his soul. Besides, the artist would have recognized the disdain for him and his social status. That’s why the voice and words played a huge role in the commoner’s brainwashing.
All his thoughts are evolving around Jung In-Hun that’s the reason why he doesn’t detect the approach of the noble. He
Now, the protagonist stands right in front of him. He is no longer virtually close but for real. Consequently, he touches the artist’s head. He is now directly seducing him. He believes that all the foreplay with Jihwa has been effective. This is the reason why the noble invites him directly to the sex session.
He had monitored all the reactions on the uke’s face, even noticed his erection hence he thought, he had won. That’s why Byeonduck gives us an illustration of the actual situation:
Now, Jihwa has been abandoned as he has served his purpose. Now, Seungho is physically close to the commoner and even touching him. Unlike in the former illustrations, this is real and not just an illusion or a wet dream.
The problem with this seduction through the actions and the hypnotic gaze is Seungho’s mindset. He actually made two mistakes: He never paid attention to Jihwa and never thought that the noble would strongly oppose to this offer. Secondly, Seungho has just been looking for sex, whereas his unconscious was telling him something else. The gaze in the painter revealed that it wasn’t just sex, there was a deep attraction and an acceptance of his homosexuality. Baek Na-Kyum would have never accepted the offer as he is someone looking for deep feelings. Deep down, Seungho was fascinated by the warmth and the affection oozing from the low-born’s stare. His attraction is natural and not influenced by his social status or his wealth which can not be said for his aristocratic friends.
From my point of view, he is not aware of his own feelings, just like he doesn’t realize that the uke couldn’t paint because he was fighting his repressed sexual desires. But Seungho doesn’t give up, he just waits for the end of the sex session and remains by the uke’s side with the excuse that he needs to be present until the painting is finished. However, if you monitor his words and actions, you can clearly perceive the main lead’s true intentions: he attempts to seduce him again but this time, with a small step as he could discern the resistance in the artist.
As a conclusion, we could discern the real role of the gaze in these two chapters, one was focused on the seme’s perspective and gaze, whereas the other was concentrating on Baek Na-Kyum’s inner struggles due to the hypnotic gaze and the sex session. Besides, the reader could observe the change of Jihwa’s behavior as he is no longer closing his eyes and pays attention his childhood friend’s mind and gaze. Finally, the signification of the closed eyes linked to the teacher was unveiled here. And this explicates why Seungho had to use the mirror and his own gaze in the sex marathon so that he would free the painter’s unconscious and body which revealed how deeply the commoner had been manipulated by the low noble. Let’s not forget that after that day, Baek Na-Kyum was no longer able to control his body. His blushing, his heart bumping and his erection were more visible and palpable for the uke. The latter could only admit his own sexual orientation and his attraction for the master.
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One thought on “Painter Of The Night: The role played by the gaze”
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