Painter Of The Night: Fire and water – part 1

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.

If you read the analysis entitled “Starry Night versus Cloudy Night”, you are already aware of the character I’ll study in this essay. It’s about the lord Lee Jihwa. Thanks to the terrible but terrific episode 60, I could finally comprehend the protagonist in his entity.

He is very similar to the painter therefore in one of my former analyses I described him as Baek Na-Kyum’s noble version and this perception is even confirmed in chapter 60. The noble says the exact same words than the artist, like my follower @Denize59542085 truly noticed. One might say that the repetition of the same expression is just random. However, if the manhwalovers contextualize the situation where these words are spoken, they will realize that both are facing the same situation. They are trying to deny the truth as their mind and heart can not accept the reality: Yoon Seungho is in love with a commoner, the painter Baek Na-Kyum. But one might appeal that this is nothing new as I had explained it before. However, if my readers recall the picture I chose to validate Jihwa’s similar attitude in the past, they will note that back then he expressed it differently. He was utilizing the imperfect due to the conditional sentence, a mixture of past and future linked to hope and dream. As you can observe, the use of tense has now switched. He is utilizing the present because he is now confronted with reality and as such with the present, personified by the painter. The presence of the hickey on Baek Na-Kyum’s neck is an irrefutable evidence of Yoon Seungho’s love for the artist. Like I had explained before, the artist is a person living in the present hence he embodies this time. On the other hand it is not the same with the noble. So the reason behind the artist’s doubts are different. It’s like a dream has come true, while for the red-haired aristocrat, it was, as if his dream and hope had been destroyed. And notice that right after seeing the hickey, he gets so shocked that he falls back on his butt and even moves away from the low-born. The shock was so huge that he has no energy left in his legs. Moreover, it was, as if the second character was trying to run away from reality, his eyes couldn’t take the blow. But his nightmare doesn’t stop here, he has to hear the painter’ scream for his lover. As you can sense, Jihwa’s senses are all confronted with reality. His own eyes saw the hickey, his own ears detected the intimacy between his ex-lover and the low-born. He can’t escape from the truth which he has been attempting so hard to avoid all this time. Now, his eyes and his ears are hurting him as they are revealing him the reality.

Because of this specific scene, I suddenly came to the following realization, the reason why Jihwa has been wearing hats with veil. I have to admit that back then, I had a different explanation, a more logical one but when did he wear them? Do you remember? Each time, it was related to a wrongdoing: destroying a painting (10), visiting Seungho’s mansion without an invitation as he wanted to investigate the painter (17), hiring an assassin(43), showing the killer the target (50) and visiting the criminal in order to remind him of his task. (51). The rational answer would be to say that he was wearing it in order to hide his identity. But in reality, there is a diverse motivation. The hat with the veil is used in order to cover his eyes and ears. While wearing such an item, he can avoid to be confronted with his crimes. His eyes can’t really see, just like his ears can’t really hear. This explains why he never questioned himself and his actions which I always criticized. Since he was veiling his eyes and ears, he was not facing the present and could escape from any responsibility. I would even add that this item reinforced his negative disposition. He would justify his actions with the past (f. ex. taking revenge on the behalf of the noble with the mole and accusing Seungho to be the cause for his evil actions) and would rejoice if they worked out. Observe that he only hears about the straw mat beating through his spy but he never witnesses the actual event. Hence he never sees the outcome of his decisions and actions. It would have been the same in chapter 17, if Seungho hadn’t intervened.

And this leads me to the next observation: the lord has never been using his own eyes and ears in the end. He uses his servants , the spy he hired, Min and rumors . Concerning the second panel, it indicates that Jihwa has truly no idea about Seungho’s real power and wealth and is more relying on hearsay. Here, Jihwa is confusing the elder master’s situation with Seungho’s. The latter might have a bad reputation but his power is far from declining. This explicates why his brother contacted the protagonist in the end, he desired to get his support. The last picture is relevant as it outlines why Jihwa would always perceive Seungho as a man consumed by lust. He never witnessed how the lord would sleep with other men as he was never present. He could never judge with his own eyes that Seungho was actually fighting with other nobles rather than enjoying having sex with them. Fooling around implies pleasure which was never the case. In fact, with this statement it becomes clear why Seungho always had sex with Jihwa separately. Jihwa made sure to never be confronted with other aristocrats, preferring avoiding reality. It didn’t help him in the long term because he always heard Seungho’s conquests through others and this could only reinforce his prejudice. In other words, these private sessions could only increase the gap between them. Jihwa could never understand his childhood friend as he was influenced what people were saying because he never saw it himself. That’s why he got hurt in the end, he only got his knowledge by hearsay.

Besides, by getting info through other people exposes that the character is somehow relying on others but at the same time, he is not really connected to them as his attention is more focused on the hearsay than the counterpart’s life. Furthermore, note that getting info through channels is always delivered later. What is present becomes the past once it reaches the recipient. [They didn’t have modern media back then] Now, you can comprehend why Jihwa was never living in the present. He was trapped in the past and the future in the end. Therefore I conclude that his attitude illustrates pure escapism. And now the readers can imagine why Jihwa sent the fake letter to his childhood friend and hurt him. Sure, he had no other way to contact him as the protagonist had cut ties with him entirely and could only rely on gossips. The manhwaphiles should remember that the letter arrives after the lord had started living in debauchery again for one week. I have the impression that due to this change, Jihwa had the hope that Baek Na-Kyum had finally lost his master’s favors. By reminding Seungho of their common past, Jihwa had the illusion that this past would be good enough to get together again. But the most important is that after sending the letter, Jihwa was never confronted with Seungho’s pain and reaction as he was not present. He could never see it with his own eyes therefore he could justify his action and blame the recipient of the letter.

What caught my attention is a certain expression Jihwa keeps using: “I know you”. This idiom underlines that Jihwa is just using knowledge but neither his heart nor his eyes nor ears to understand him. He might know things but he can’t feel as he is himself deprived of his own senses. He’s deaf and blind in reality, very similar to the artist’s attitude in season 2 from chapter 45 to 49. In my opinion, Jihwa’s behavior reminds me of this picture with Baek Na-Kyum: A man without his head as his mind is full of prejudices and he is not even using his own eyes and ears. That’s why his so-called love for Seungho is shallow as he shows no true compassion. One might refute this argument by saying that the noble saw the lord’s nightmares. However, if you pay attention to this scene, you’ll notice that they are related to the past and not to the present. Jihwa was never a witness, when Seungho was directly wounded emotionally and physically. He could only observe the consequences of his suffering (the trauma), yet he knew nothing about their origins, only a name: lord Song. His knowledge is very limited, yet it gave him a certain feeling of superiority, explaining why Jihwa always considered himself as special. First, he knew certain things about his past as they were childhood friends. Secondly they had sex alone and finally Seungho always forgave Jihwa’s wrongdoings. The reason for this is quite simple: both were living in the past, yet it changed the moment Baek Na-Kyum entered the two figures’ life, the person symbolizing the present. Let’s not forget that the protagonist’s tumultuous relationship with his friend got affected the moment the low-born created his first work. The sex at the pavilion affected not only Seungho but also Jihwa. While the former had come back to life without noticing it and saw a different image about himself, the other had the impression that he had been able to stimulate his friend for the first time and this gave him hope that he was closer to his dream.

From that moment, his life could never be the same. Nonetheless, the readers couldn’t truly realize the huge impact, even myself. I mean, I had detected a certain change, yet I had not entirely grasped the whole signification, the importance of Jihwa’s eyes. Since I have come to the deduction that the lord was deaf and blind before, I consider that the red-haired character’s gaze was actually dead in the past. Consequently the noble never relied on his own eyes. No wonder if Seungho couldn’t fall in love with his friend as he could never see himself reflected in Jihwa’s eyes. This explicates why the first drawing shows Jihwa with closed eyes. At the pavilion, Jihwa discovered through his body Seungho’s desires first (the kiss, then licking his ear). Pay attention that he only looks at his friend’s phallus the moment he feels it on his butt while proposing to help his friend to get aroused. So the change in Seungho’s behavior provoked a transformation in Jihwa either. He had witnessed himself the metamorphosis with his own eyes but all this was triggered by the physical interaction first. Strictly speaking, Jihwa has always used his own body to compensate the loss of his eyes and ears. Through his body he had the impression, he wasn’t entirely lifeless. Due to the sex at the pavilion, the aristocrat decided to behave differently and use more his own eyes.

That’s why when the red-haired protagonist visited his friend in chapter 5, he felt confident and started using more his own eyes for the first time. But pay attention to the way he uses them.Only now I comprehend why the lord could see the painter’s virginity. Let’s not forget that in this scene, Jihwa touches Baek Na-Kyum’s body. So he is not relying entirely on his gaze. Like I mentioned above, the noble lived more through his body and his hand helps him to sense the painter’s virginity. Let’s not forget that the character has learnt himself through his own body to detect sexual experiences. From my perspective, he sensed through his hand the painter’s shyness, that’s how he discovered his secret. He acted as if he was a man with a bad sight. But he was not only blind before, he was also deaf therefore in the same chapter, he doesn’t hear Seungho’s annoyance about his bad reflection, he is a man consumed by lust. In my opinion, Jihwa lived through his other senses (taste and touch) to feel alive. And that’s one of the reasons why he drinks so much in the end. Happy or not, he drinks. Strangely is that in chapter 8, Jihwa has just bought an erotic picture but he looks at it without taking any pleasure. And this is important as it shows that his eyes are not sensitive, they are starting to come back to life. That’s why he can not be deeply moved by Baek Na-Kyum’s paintings in reality. For me, it becomes clear that due to the appearance of Baek Na-Kyum in Jihwa’s life, the noble is forced more and more to use his own eyes and ears, especially after hearing from his friend about the locked gaze between Yoon Seungho and the low-born. Hence we see many zooms on his gaze in chapter 13, 14 and 15 underlining that he is forced to use them. He has to witness with his own eyes the attraction between the two main leads and attempts to change it.

Since he had internalized this escapist attitude, he had to wear a hat with a veil for his wrongdoings. With this new interpretation, it becomes more comprehensible why Jihwa wasn’t bothered that his friend had cut his topknot, when he got upset. Because he was blind, he could never see his hair cut with his own eyes, grasp the signification of the gesture. He had to touch it literally to realize the consequence of his wrongdoing, he had to sense it with his hand.

Since I have already described the character’s gaze as dead in the past, the appearance of the mirror in chapter 3 gets a new dimension: His eyes are absent and observe, he is touching his body in order to detect the marks left by the main lead. And the manhwaphiles should remember that one of the mirror’s purpose is to help the beholder to perceive his identity. Unlike his friend, he is not avoiding the mirror but since he is blind, he can’t perceive himself and needs his hands to see. And it is quite similar in chapter 41: here he’s holding himself the big spoon that’s how he can see his own reflection the water. I hope, you can understand why I can not examine each scene where Jihwa’s eyes play a huge role. However, with this new discovery, I would like to incite the manhwalovers to read the manhwa from the start and pay attention to Jihwa’s eyes and ears. But because he has been deaf and blind for so long figuratively speaking, it is not surprising that Jihwa is a selfish person. He is trapped in his own world where his interactions with others are restricted and his world is linked to the past. That’s why he can’t live in the present. Who would like to be reminded of his disabilities?

And now it is time to explain the significance of Jihwa’s tears. They are very different from the painter’s. The latter symbolize purity and innocence, while in the noble’s case they signalize the return of his sight. In other words, he is also coming back to life. Water is a symbol for life because without water there is no existence. One might refute this idea because we witness Jihwa’s tears before the painter’s introduction in their life. Yet, the beholder will recognize that the noble’s tears are barely visible. The tears don’t flow down the cheeks like in the latest chapter. From my point of view, this scene is very important as it explains Jihwa’s obsession with his friend in the end. In his presence, he was able to feel something, it moved his heart to the point to have some tears in his eyes. But he didn’t see with his own eyes, Jihwa detected it through his body and especially his hands. Note how Seungho is holding his hand on his friend’s shoulder and he is looking down. Both have no eye contact. Yet, this was enough for the red-haired aristocrat. Due to Seungho’s behavior, Jihwa sensed that he was feeling alive because of the appearance of tears. Yet it only appeared when his friend was in pain. That’s why Jihwa had to hurt Seungho in the end to feel existent. If the latter was wounded, he would feel a certain compassion and he would have the impression that his eyes and ears were not dead. A really vicious circle. But for me, there’s another explanation why Jihwa has become obsessed with his childhood friend. From my point of view, he must have witnessed something terrible, it is definitely possible that it is linked to guilt. In his unconscious, he feels responsible for his friend’s misery. But there is more to it in my opinion. I believe that because he had lost his soul (the gaze dead), Jihwa desired to live through his friend’s life. He hoped to see himself in his friend’s gaze so that he would have the impression to exist. In his mind and heart, Seungho’s love for him would help him to recover his sight. He was dependent on him in the end,

But let’s return our attention to Jihwa’s tears. The quantity of tears continues increasing illustrating more and more that Jihwa is changing. However, the return of his tears signifies that he is forced to live more and more in the present. And now if you pay attention to his weeping, you’ll notice that he often closes his eyes or uses his hand to cover his tears (observe the position of his hands here) or hide his tears with the veil of the hat or bury his head so that the tears are not visible These gestures represent his resistance to accept reality. He is not able to face reality and the present hence he urges Nameless to kill the painter very soon. It was as if he tried to hurry the time so that the murder would happen very quickly.

And since I have described Jihwa who refuses to use his own eyes, the manhwalovers can grasp how poitnless Seungho’s warning was in the end. How is it possible for a blind person to see a line?

Finally, it also explains why Seungho’s words were rejected or even forgotten by the childhood friend. He couldn’t believe his own ears that the main lead would never be together with him. That’s why in the cabin, he is still in denial, until the criminal confronts him with the reality. Striking is that once the noble complains about his incompetence, he shows him the kidnapped painter. which leaves him speechless. Striking is that right after, the noble hides away from the commoner. First, he turns his back to Nameless and even hides his eyes behind his hands. Another sign that he is still avoiding the present and the terrible situation. Then he confronts the commoner and observe that he is talking about the past again, using it as an argument. He criticizes Nameless for not doing his job illustrating that he is not taking any responsibility. But what the aristocrat fails to recognize is that Nameless is acting as the mirror, the mirror of fact, reality and truth!! His good heart made him detect the aristocrat’s guilty conscience hence he first postponed the murder hoping that Jihwa would change his mind. However, it didn’t work hence he reminded him of the severity of the crime but the latter didn’t really budge, despite a certain hesitation. Each time, he urged the commoner to hurry up and finish it. I believe that’s how Nameless recognized that Jihwa would never see any responsibility after the crime despite a certain guilt. He sensed that Jihwa would become just like all the nobles who order a murder and then frame and blame low-borns for their wrongdoings. And this escapist attitude concerning the hit was present right from the start. What caught my attention is that in chapter 43, when Min incites Jihwa to kill the low-born, the upset noble is not using the personal pronoun “I” but “we”. He is including the others with his question. It was as if he wanted them to share the responsibility. Sure, Min was the one who brought it up, yet Jihwa could have refused. This question also unveils a certain hesitation. In my opinion, he’s hoping that they will stop him. However nothing happens like that. Min shows no remorse. My point is that even if Jihwa was reluctant to commit the murder, he was the one who made the decision in the end and hired Nameless. Through their different meetings, the commoner recognized the presence of guilt but simultaneously the lack of sense of responsibility. Hence Jihwa is forced to look at his victim and his misdeeds by Nameless. But just like the mirror in Snow White, the mirror is also speaking and even letting him hear that he is no longer innocent as he played a key role in the target’s capture. He is no longer innocent, even if he had no idea about it. The irony here is that Nameless is using the same strategy than Jihwa but in the opposite sense. Ignorance is no blessing in the end. Even if he was unaware, he has become part of the plan, a sort of accomplice. Therefore he is already accountable for the future event. As you can see, the commoner uses the exact two senses which Jihwa refused to use in the end: sight and hearing. But he even provoked the aristocrat by describing what his friend had been doing after he left him leading him to verify his saying. As you can observe, Nameless is manipulating him for his own good. We all know that he wasn’t truly blind and deaf but since he was hurt, he chose to act as if he was blind and deaf, turning him into a selfish and lonely person. But Nameless doesn’t stop here with the confrontation.

In order to force him to make a decision rationally, Jihwa needs to hear the scream from the victim, to sense the victim’s fear and tears in order to grasp the gravity of his decision. He needs to hear from the commoner what could happen to the target. His descriptions are so vivid that Jihwa can vizualize the consequences of his decision. He can no longer escape from this. That’s why the door in his back is so small. He has already committed so many wrongdoings but he still has an option to escape. He can drop the project. Let’s not forget that he would have killed the painter in affect if Nameless hadn’t stopped him. The criminal wants him to make a decision with a clear mind, similar to the painter who stepped out to clear his mind and face the reality. He is not allowing his client to act on his emotions. He recognized that Jihwa was again using the future, attempting to escape from the present and reality again. That’s why Jihwa’s eyes and ears play a huge part in chapter 60. Only here, I was able to recognize Jihwa’s real blindness and deafness, both related to his past and explaining why he was so obsessed with his friend. As a conclusion, the lord Lee Jihwa was not really living. Yet this was not so perceptible like with the main protagonist for his smiles and clothes gave a different impression. In other words, he is a mixture of the two protagonists: the painter due to his tears and his naivety and the powerful master Yoon Seungho due to his attitude towards life, his refusal to live in the present, escaping from reality.

Feel free to comment. If you have any suggestion for topics or manhwas, feel free to ask. If you enjoyed reading it, retweet it or push the button like. My tumblr-twitter account is: @bebebisous33. Thanks for reading and the support.

2 thoughts on “Painter Of The Night: Fire and water – part 1

  1. So where does all of this leave Nameless? We have seen that he is willing and able to do harm, but is he being considerate to BNK or Jihwa? All points to Jihwa, but is it BECAUSE of BNK? As long as Nameless is for hire, Jihwa will wait and not harm BNK. Also, based on timing, BNK left the Noonas about 3-4 years ago….what are the odds of Nameless not crossing paths with him.

    Your analysis helps me to understand Jihwa better and back in those times they didn’t exactly have someone who will listen to their problems. Nameless appears to be taking on that role and for good reasons. If Jihwa need to throw someone under the bus to save his hide, he has made it somewhat obvious that he will do it. It appears that Nameless needs him to be more confident about the murder so that he will ultimately get away with it. Oooohhh. I am so conflicted about this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have more the impression, he is actually convincing him not to murder the painter as his guilty conscience won’t disappear afterwards. IMO, Nameless has already some protector so I believe, Nameless is doing it not because he doesn’t want to be framed but for Jihwa’s interest.

      Like

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