This is where you can read the manhwa. https://www.lezhinus.com/en/comic/painter But be aware that this manhwa is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes. If you want to read more essays, here is the link to the table of contents: https://bebebisous33analyses.wordpress.com/2020/07/04/table-of-contents-painter-of-the-night/
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This won’t be a long analysis compared to “Conscious versus unconscious” but I felt the need to examine the scenes from the first chapter, after I made this discovery while analyzing the chapter 54: Yoon Seungho’s hands and feet are under the control of his unconscious, while his mouth speaks for the mind representing the conscious. Under this interpretation, certain scenes from the first season have now another significance. This helps us to understand why the lord had his mood swings. This proves that the lord was never an unsensitive character, in reality quite the opposite. There is a fire burning inside his body, a metaphor for the intensity of his feelings and the moment he gets wounded, he literally explodes. There’s anger mixed with pain.
However since his mind chose to live as a spirit, he could only repress any feeling. This explicates why due to the power of his repressed emotions, he could only get blinded by his rage and heartache, the moment they came to the surface due to a wound. As you can imagine, it is impossible for me to study all the scenes from the first season therefore I decided to pick the ones from the first chapter as an illustration. Consequently, when you read the manhwa from the start again, pay attention to the hands, the feet and the mouth because their actions mirror the inner conflict of this traumatized man and his growing desires for Baek Na-Kyum.
Let’s start with the first scene. What caught my attention is the noble is cleaning his sword while menacing in front of the servant that someone could die. Since the lord speaks about a bloodbath in a calm manner, he appears cold and even heartless. The cause for his lack of sensibility is that his mouth is controlled by his mind and the latter is denying the existence of any emotion. Striking is that his hands are busy as they are focused on wiping the sword. I perceive a contrast between the tranquility coming from the mouth and the activity of the hands. This scene already implies the first inner conflict between the conscious and unconscious. Notice that he is neither smoking nor drinking so that his feelings are not numb. The movement of his hands displays a certain edginess. With this first introduction, Yoon Seungho appears bloodthirsty due to the association of the blood and the sword. However, if you look again at the scene, you’ll notice that he only threatens, after hearing that the painter is no longer working. So the trigger for his menace is the fear that his wish to get new erotic paintings might not be granted. He denies that this news should concern him, yet right after he comes up with this thread. Someone could die. The contradiction between the hands and the mouth and even the disparity between “that’s nothing to concern myself” and “surely he won’t insist on it once he sees some blood” actually betray the aristocrat’s eagerness to have the artist by his side. He wants Baek Na-Kyum to paint for him. In other words, right from the start the noble felt the need to have the painter and his unconscious through the hands revealed his true emotions. However, in this scene he has never seen Baek Na-Kyum. He has no idea how he looks like but through the paintings, his unconscious had been triggered. The erotic images had aroused emotions in him.
And notice that when his servant has finally discovered Baek Na-Kyum’s real identity, the lord can’t wait to meet the artist. He follows the domestic to the tavern. As a powerful aristocrat, he could have sent his valet Kim in order to hire Baek Na-Kyum personally. No, he didn’t… his feet under the influence of his unconscious exposes his real desire and his dependency. He must see the painter himself and have him no matter what.
In the beginning of their first encounter, the lord shows a detached attitude. His face is expressionless, until the painter acquiesces about his identity. From that moment, the lord’s visage changes. There is a huge smile on his face and grabs his hands with such a speed and strength that Baek Na-Kyum is unable to resist. The lord is not even aware that he has dropped his mask of indifference. His eyes are shining, his mouth is even smiling. Striking is that the mouth lets even transpire a lot of affection: “very much enjoy”, “my boy”. His actions contrast so much to the first scene. In my first analysis of the first episode, I had compared him to a fan meeting his idol. However, from my point of view, his emotions are actually much stronger than I had envisioned. The mouth is not under the control of the mind, the conscious. Why such a reaction? It is because the painter has just spoken to him. Therefore I come to the observation that right from the start, the artist’s mouth plays a huge role in their relationship. Baek Na-Kyum’s mouth is the trigger for the unconscious to reveal itself. However, at no instant, Yoon Seungho realizes the contradiction between his body and his mind. He is so happy to meet the painter he admired so much, because he felt a connection through the creations. It’s as if his unconscious had sensed the power of the artist’s emotions (love, warmth) behind his pictures. The unconscious through the eyes recognized the sensitivity in Baek Na-Kyum’s works. For me, the lord had already fallen in love with Baek Na-Kyum, even before he met him for the first time. Yet, I believe, the moment he sees his face and hears his voice, his feelings become even more intense to the point he already has an erection. His body, led by his unconscious, is attracted by the low-born. Interesting is that at no time, Baek Na-Kyum’s status as a low-born is relevant. The noble feels the need to touch his hands, even treasures them. He allows the artist’s hands to touch his loins. There is such a closeness exposing the noble’s desire: his body wishes intimacy, yet his mouth is still fighting the urges expressed by the unconscious. That’s why he keeps talking about the paintings and the effect they had on him. Why do I think that the powerful protagonist is so fascinated by the painter’s mouth and the latter serves as a trigger for his unconscious to reveal itself? Let’s not forget that I wrote that the low-born’s face serves as a mirror to the lord. His face symbolizes the mirror of the truth. Since the aristocrat’s mouth is under the power of his conscious, his mouth is never allowed to speak the truth. Due to his philosophy to live as a spirit and to never feel any emotion, the lord forced himself to use his mouth to disguise himself and to never let transpire any emotion: only rationality and coldness. Therefore his mouth is never honest in reality. Not only it lies to others but also to the main lead himself. The mind through the mouth is ruling his life, telling him and others that he is cold, distant and even heartless. However, deep down his unconscious wishes honesty and genuineness. In reality, Seungho is a very passionate person.
Striking is that the moment, the painter denies that he’s the author of the erotic paintings the lord’s face slowly gets frigid and the smile vanishes gradually. For me, the lie triggered the return of his mask. Look at his faze: it was as if it was paralyzed. The conscious takes over the control of the lord’s face. He is disguising his emotions. He is deeply hurt. His feelings have been rejected, since the painter told him that he wasn’t the person he had been looking for. The conscious might control the face and the mouth for an instant, yet his hands are under the power of his unconscious. That’s why he grabs the sword so quickly. The manhwalovers only witness the sword leaving its protection outlining the rapidity of his hand. This gesture displays the anger he is hiding behind his frozen face. From my perspective, his hands and his feet are expressing what he is feeling inside. There is this rage and pain for being pushed away. He’s already the vengeful spirit, his unconscious feels the need to vent his inner emotions. However, since I observed the return of the lord’s mind, we have to imagine that the main lead has the impression, he is making decisions rationally. He is just following what he said the night before. If his wish is not granted, then someone has to pay. I believe, the speed of his hands and feet indicate that the latter are actually influenced by his unconscious, the lord can’t detect the power of his unconscious as they are actually obeying the order of his mind: someone needs to die. And note that soon after he rushes to the servant’s side. It was as if he was flying towards him, his feet are rushing demonstrating the intensity of his inner emotions. The painter’s mouth, which he is already treasuring, wounded his heart so deeply that he feels the need to punish someone but he can’t hurt the artist because he was somehow moved by the painter’s face. His unconscious must have sensed the innocence in the painter’s gaze. Let’s not forget that Baek Na-Kyum is sweating, when he lies to Yoon Seungho. As you can detect, there are many reasons why he didn’t touch the artist in the first place. Yet, since his mouth said that some blood would be spilled, he needs to find another target and that’s the domestic. Furthermore, the unconscious sees no problem with the killing. I would like to remind that the unconscious is something wild and knows no boundary, the emotions unleashed by the unconscious can be very violent. The mind might have decided that he would kill someone if his wish wasn’t granted and the unconscious might have agree to this in order to vent his fury. In other words, the lord’s body might seem now under the control of the mind, yet from my perspective, the lord’s emotions, led by his unconscious, are playing a huge role in this scene as well. Observe that the moment he is about to kill, his gaze is cold and ruthless, but his face seems like frozen. For me, he is here wearing his mask again. However, his eyebrows and mouth are betraying him. He has a frowning face.
A frown (also known as a scowl) is a facial expression in which the eyebrows are brought together, and the forehead is wrinkled, usually indicating displeasure, sadness or worry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frown#:~:text=A%20frown%20(also%20known%20as,less%20often%20confusion%20or%20concentration.
This reveals that the lord’s action to kill the domestic isn’t causing him some pleasure, quite the opposite. He is rather displeased and even a little sad, but he is angry as well, because his hand is the one killing the low-born. For me, this murder can be explained by the pain caused by the painter’s lie and not by his thirst for blood. Yet, he is not in a dissociative state either. This is perceptible, when you contrast this situation with the one in the shaman’s house. (Chapter 102) (chapter) Here, the gaze is focused. It was, as if he needed to prove to himself and to others, he is not joking. At the same time, his unconscious needs to vent his frustration and agony. However, I believe what we are seeing here is the result of indoctrination and brainwashing. He has been conditioned, as it is his way to cope with his PTSD.
In my opinion, the heartache is the reason why he is so selfish in the first half of the first season. Everything revolves around himself: his desires, his wishes, his pains and his emotions. Due to the Stockholm Syndrome, Yoon Seungho has turned into a blind and self-centered man. He has adopted the principles of his tormentors. Hence, he’s oblivious to anyone around him. Therefore he didn’t pay attention to the painter’s discomfort, while he was touching his hands. Furthermore, I see a confirmation that the aristocrat was acting on his unconscious too, when he eliminates the domestic. Only after the murder, he sees the painter’s tool, while he explains the reason for his action in a rational and calm manner. My question is: Why didn’t he check out who lied in the first place? Why did he have to kill someone? From my perspective, in this scene, the lord’s heart played a huge part in his behavior. In my opinion, he’s already developed some feelings for the painter, hence he didn’t vent his anger on him. Deep down, he knew that his servant had deceived him, though he couldn’t tell how. He didn’t notice the servant’s discomfort. (Chapter 1) Thus he was portrayed with no eyes. Sure, not everything was a lie, yet the commoner mixed a lie with the truth, turning his testimony into a deception. What appeared as trivial was in truth betrayal. What the domestic didn’t know is that the lord hates lies, for they were the reason for his downfall. He needed to hurt someone, because he had been wounded by the painter’s lie. But the latter was just a white lie. So in the picture above, I see the lord’s conscious attempting to justify his action. Yet his gaze and smile contradict his mouth right after. There is a glimpse of a smile, his eyes are showing an interest. The idiom “the boy” illustrates a certain closeness. I mean, he could have called him “the low-born” but he didn’t. For me, this picture illustrates the lord’s satisfaction. He has obtained what he wanted: the painter.
Striking is that later at his mansion, the painter lies again. Yet compared to the first deception, the lord’s anger is less violent. He is even caressing the painter with his sword. It looks like the sword would remove the cloth so that he can see the artist’s naked body. The way he uses the weapon exposes that his unconscious doesn’t want to hurt the artist, although he is actually displeased to be lied again. This gesture expresses a certain sexual desire, but the counterpart is not noticing it due to his uncomfortable and frightening situation. That’s why there is no rage unlike at the tavern. The sexual desires have returned. Furthermore, we could say that the main character has got used to or that he is well aware that Baek Na-Kyum has the creator of the erotic paintings by his side. He feels less betrayed.
Observe that during this scene Yoon Seungho can’t stop his hands, therefore he starts getting touchy again. First, he wipes the painter’s tears and later he even grabs his hands again. I would even say, the gesture with the sword is another caress showing the power of his emotions. His unconscious feels the urge to touch and caress his face and his hands. Both have already become Yoon Seungho’s weaknesses. Notice that he even lowers himself to the painter twice and gets very close to him. His feet always lead him to the artist’s proximity. He remains by his side, until he is lied a second time. From that moment, he stands up and starts walking revealing a certain uneasiness and edginess. He is troubled and frustrated because he has been indirectly rejected again. Yet, unlike at the tavern, his reaction is less violent and this for two reasons. First, his unconscious is definitely more attracted than before. Secondly, his mind is well aware that the painter is not telling the truth. In other words, his heart and mind are not fighting each other. Their goal is the same, they want to have the painter by their side. Yet the conscious doesn’t realize that behind its decisions, the heart is already influencing his mind. Why does he want the erotic drawings?
The last image where you see the lord weeping his tears is quite interesting, because for the first time, the lord is wondering about the painter’s actions: his lie and his tears. Yoon Seungho is already fascinated by Baek Na-Kyum. Why does he keep lying? Why does he cry? The commoner is quite a puzzle for the noble. His mind doesn’t understand the artist’s behavior. For me, this drawing reveals that Yoon Seungho’s mind has already started thinking about Baek Na-Kyum a lot. Compared to the scene at the tavern, he is less selfish. He pays more attention to the artist’s reaction and words. Everything is pointing out that his mind is already influenced by his heart but the noble hasn’t noticed it yet. That’s why he doesn’t get aware that he is falling in love.
Striking is that he even sent his staff away, creating a certain intimacy. He definitely wants to get close to Baek Na-Kyum physically and mentally. But since he’s just a spirit, he doesn’t notice that his hands and feet have been acting on their own… led by his unconscious.
Yet compared to the chapter 54, the inner conflict between the lord’s unconscious and conscious is less palpable, as the heart and mind are not contradicting each other, since the noble is already rationalizing all his actions and decisions. This is only a matter of time, until his desires for the painter become so unbearable that he starts wooing him. The paintings become more and more just an excuse. I hope, with this essay, you will feel the desire to read the manhwa all over again under these two aspects.
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