An Auto-Vivisection of the Aesthetic Sense (nsfw)

…and this is literally what I’m going to do.  Rather than reading up on aesthetics articles and employing the shaky arsenal of art critics, I’m simply going to paste some images from one of my favorite artists and tell you what elements I like.  Hopefully I’ll get farther this way than by trying to define Art or delimiting good vs bad Art etc.

I’ve picked for this purpose my favorite pixiv artist: gorobots.  I like his stuff a lot and you can find a link to his blog on my sidebar.  Let me put up 4 of my favorite pics (for higher resolution do visit his site).

No. 1

No. 1

No. 2

No. 2

No. 3

No. 3

No. 4

No. 4

gorobots draws lolitas pretty much exclusively, so my selection is not skewed but a fair representation of his work.  The subject matter of lolitas is scabrous, to say the least, and I wouldn’t want to touch it with a 10-foot pole.  For purposes of this post, suffice it to say that in the world of pixiv there are plenty of artists doing similar work, and I want to investigate what about  gorobots’ style IMHO makes him so interesting.

The first thing that strikes me when I look at a gorobots pic is the eyes.  They are large, brightly colored and made up of concentric circles.  When I see concentric circles I think of Madness.  When I see red eyes in a character (gorobots’ favorite eye color is red), I think of Evil.  Mad and evil girls.  Girls are not supposed to be mad and evil, so there’s a contradiction here.

The second thing I always appreciate in gorobots is the use of lighting.  I don’t have an eye for detail, not at all, so my guess is if I notice the lighting that means he’s probably “overusing” it.  I’m not even sure if his portrayal of light effects is accurate, but I do recognize and like two things it does: 1) it fleshes out the character, making it 3D, lifelike (if that makes sense); 2) it forms a “natural” halo on the character’s head.  You can see this really clearly in No. 1, 3 and 4.  I think this adds to that contradiction I talked to before.  It works like a pendulum: Innocence ↔ Madness ↔ Angelical ↔ Evil.

I also love gorobots’ use of color.  Even though all of his work is very colorful, half of his pictures are super-saturated in color.  No. 1 and No. 3 are super-saturated, 2 and 4 not so much.  I’m a fan of his super saturated colorful ones: they really catch my eye.  He seems to draw thicker lines the more colorful he gets, which I figure it’s a matter of keeping some balance.

There’s one final thing I want to say about gorobots’ style, and why I like it.  This is something that I feel very strongly inside of me, but it’s hard to explain to others without sounding all cryptic.  Strictly speaking, my description of these matters is bound to be inaccurate, as I really don’t know how to express myself.  The words are going to be wrong, and my hope is that even though the medium might be messed up, the message might still somehow get through.  Anyway, let me give it my best shot:

When it comes to Art, I’m into people.  Landscapes, historical setting always recede into the background.  In terms of 19th century Art, I can appreciate Van Gogh and Monet to some extent, but their work doesn’t call to me the way Manet does in Olympia or A Bar at the Folies-Bergère.  [Psychologically speaking I reckon this means I’m not very sophisticated artistically.  I’d rather look at people than trees and buildings].

Olympia

Olympia

A Bar at the Folies-Bergere

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère

Here’s where it gets complicated: I don’t like “posers”.  If a drawing or a picture makes me feel as if the subject was posing for my sake it really turns me off.  For a guy who likes portraits this seems to be a huge difficulty.

The “for my sake” part is the key here.  In Manet’s Olympia, the model was obviously posing for the artist.  And of course, she knew that the artist would paint her, promote or sell his work and eventually have it be viewed and enjoyed by the many.  Therefore, in an indirect fashion she was posing for us, the spectators.  But what’s brilliant about Manet is how he manages to stop that process and deny the model’s intention.

As a result Manet’s Olympia, I’m talking of the work and not the model, is not posing for us.  It is a self-contained world, she does what she does (pose for the artist) without regard to us.  Manet can do this by recreating the story of her life, with the servant, the cat and most of all, by portraying his model as vibrant and free (even defiant).  In the case of Folies, the model is swept in such brooding melancholy she seems to be failing at posing for the painter!!  And that’s why I like Manet.

In the case of gorobots, of course, his models do not actually exist in the physical world.  As such, they neither pose for the artist nor to the spectator/consumer.  I think this aggravates the problem rather than lessen it.  Artists like gorobots must, in order to please me anyway, figure out how to impede  the conclusion that they drew what they drew for our sakes.

Pics No. 1 and 2 above are clearly “posed”.  But he creates, in my eyes, an illusion of freedom that prevents his characters from posing for us.  The gloves in pic No. 2 are very effective for this.  No. 3 and 4, especially 4, tell a pretty elaborate (though ultimately unkowable) story that has the same effect.

I know…this does not make much sense at all!

ONE FINAL NOTE:

Some might suspect me of cropping pics No. 2 and No. 3.  I haven’t, actually.  They were originally that way.  In fact, gorobots has stated that he draws them like that.  gorobots tends to get inspiration from any number of anime shows and video games that he likes.  I don’t really watch the stuff he watches, so this “doujin fanservice” aspect doesn’t really factor in for me.  But the role of Tantalus in aesthetics is interesting, and it might be a good topic for another post.

~ by Haloed Bane on July 14, 2009.

15 Responses to “An Auto-Vivisection of the Aesthetic Sense (nsfw)”

  1. I like what I see and LOVE the eyes. They say to me that there’s something more to see here. There is some kind of inner demon and conflict raging that I don’t even know about. The style reminds me a LOT of the style in Eureka Sevenor the manga Deadman Wonderland.

    I definitely get what you’re saying about making a character really appear to be… existing, beyond just being in a picture. I think the eyes are truly what capture that – it’s a pose, and there’s a situation, but the eyes really let you feel that this character has a personality and a reason and is caught in a moment of a longer story.

    Going through some of my favorites on gelbooru I tried to pick a couple that I think some somewhere close to that style.

    http://gelbooru.com/index.php?page=post&s=view&id=52112

    http://gelbooru.com/index.php?page=post&s=view&id=60158

    http://gelbooru.com/index.php?page=post&s=view&id=159525 (I think you’ll like this guy’s colors)

    http://gelbooru.com/index.php?page=post&s=view&id=147712

    I have some that are pretty much pornographic, but I don’t think you want them lol.

  2. The Bar at the Folies-Bergere is awesome. That painting just sucks me in. Lol you have a complex with posing and portraiture. I prefer ‘slice of life’ or candid images myself, images that strongly suggest a narrative.

    Gorobots seems to excel in character design, which I can appreciate, but it will be very difficult for me to remember him.

  3. @digiboy

    I’m flabbergasted. You actually understood everything I wanted to say about this. Yay!

    I loved the first link, the second link was whatever, the third link I do like the colors though the bottom half looked so-so drawn, and I loved the last link (especially with the message it brought).

    As for other, more explicit links, there’s my email on About/Contact page.

    @ghostlightning

    Folies is great. I like slice of life but the characters gotta be center stage in it, no pretty harvest time with little dots for people in the distance if you know what I mean!

  4. People underestimate digiboy all the time, but the flabbergastation is all very satisfying, no?

    Oh yes, the humans need to take precedence in images. I’m species-ist that way too.

    Also, in Folies note the UNPOSSIBLE reflection of our bar maid. Take the expression on her face, and you have an incredible amount of subtext going on.

  5. This is actually off-topic, I guess, but what’s it like being able to actually converse with artists with relative ease? Like, I’m used to getting info only through interviews and whatnot (which is kinda hard, since, for example, we got gorobots in japanese, therefore I’ll never see that interview)….but these days, in some cases, you can talk with them and toss out your own interpretations. Do they ever say anything important on their blogs or is it usually just ‘this is what happened today’?

  6. @ghostlightning

    well, they shouldn’t. some day digiman will arise and kick their butts (intellectually, I mean).

    A lot of subtext, yes. I think the painting’s been studied a lot, along with Olympia..What do you think of Morimura’s Olympia?

    http://morimura-ya.com/gallery/west/4.html

    @prophet

    (you were talking hypothetically about gorobots, right? Or, what interview??)

    The answer really depends on the artist. People like okama and Naito Yamada don’t allow for comments in their website, that tells you something right there. Naito’s blog is 99% advertising and promoting her latest works.

    ABe is weird, because he does get into ramblings about his hobbies and once in a while his work, and he does allow comments but he never ever responds to them. The first time I ran into ABe’s blog I thought: Whoa, how come every post doesn’t have 50 comments in it?? (mostly they have 2,3 comments). It took me awhile to realize that he never responds and so people just read and move on.

    Jun Tsukasa is informative, and he responds to every single comment. Like, you can ask him, why did you do that?, and he’ll actually tell you. He’s so friendly it kinda makes one wonder if he’s hired someone to do it for him, but eventually you actually get to know so much about the guy (his deadlines, his mother’s illness) that it’s really interesting.

    gorobots does little blurbs on the anime he’s watching and the games he’s playing. Sometimes he’ll talk about the source for the image he’s posting, but he doesn’t get into the creative process itself. That said, people comment a lot and he responds to them, usually saying he did X like Y because he felt like it…

    I try not to comment too much or in too much detail because I think Japanese are a bit intimidated by it. Maybe I should ask more…

  7. I don’t like this comment, because it will eradicate delicious Däniken reference :<

    All I can say is, I like gorobots use of colour, though I tend to, like ghostlightning, prefer art that suggests narrative. Most of all, however, I prefer images with quite particular kinds of scenery (train stations, skies – particularly sunset – crickety-summer things) and possibly some people here and there, and I have yet to find a word for it. Other than that, my aesthetic skills are too lacking to say anything.

  8. Oh I just went to gorobots’ site and saw ‘animekritik’ in what I assumed to be a comments sidebar. Then I just thought, “Damn, this kinda makes all those comments like Murata and formcode pointless when you can just put them up on a blog and actually get feedback”.

    And ak, seriously, try for an interview or something. Get the little guy some global exposure, catapult them to fame and big money.

  9. Very entertaining. The size of the image doesn’t help me get more out of it, but lol that was a treat.

  10. I like the way gorobotsu makes ‘screenshots’ of the portraits. I can’t call it different – as you say, his characters do pose – but at the same time they look unprepared, like if he ‘took the photo’ a moment before he should.

    I adore his style, its meta part. The thickness of the lines. The eyes, the colours. (And I totally love his demon girl)

    Already a few times I found myself wanting to leave a comment on his blog, but since I can’t Japanese, an English comment would only be disturbing or seem like spam.

    The last thing I must add, gorobotsu inspired me. Since I followed an intriguing banner in your sidebar a month ago, I tried to copy some oh his style elements to my own art. (Successful or not, I don’t know).

    P.S. Pity that he doesn’t blog in English~
    P.P.S. I’m sorry if the comment looks a bit cut-off at the end, but right now it’s 0am here and I already lost my point.

  11. @kaiser

    There is a prophecy that the world will end when I get my 1,000th comment, so your deed is worse than you think.

    You like scenery stuff, yeah, I think it’s nice too but I prefer portraits. For scenery, the Brueghels are best.

    @prophet

    LOL My catapult is very small, more like a slingshot. I don’t think he’d go very far… Artists like gorobots are quite shy so I wouldn’t try out for an interview for awhile yet. Maybe in the future though.

    @ghostlightning

    Be careful what you wish for. Morimura doing Olympia AND Folies:

    @Gargron

    That’s really cool that you got inspiration from him! I don’t think gorobots understands English although a simple comment like “Great picture” he should be able to understand.

    I agree with the sweetness of the lines and the colors. Really striking.

    On the links at the sidebar, I might as well write it here: the other artist on my sidebar, mirrorofsoul, has had a problem with her host website and her gallery’s been deleted! It’s a pity coz I was just about to make a post on her stuff. Anyway, she’s slowly rebuilding a gallery so if you see 3 pictures there and like 500 people following her, now you know why…

  12. It sounds like you enjoy the cognitive dissonance induced by his art and the naturalness of the characters he depicts.

    Psychologically speaking I reckon this means I’m not very sophisticated artistically. I’d rather look at people than trees and buildings

    haha Not at all! People is one of the most fascinating and one of the most complex subjects in art 🙂

    As for posers, I also prefer more natural positions, but I don’t mind. What matters to me more is an ability of an artist to capture the essence and convey her/his perception.

    If you have the stamina and willingness to watch a film for several hours, I suggest “La Belle Noiseuse” (236 min) inspired by Honoré de Balzac’s “The Unknown Masterpiece” It is about interaction between an artist and his model, and also indirectly addresses the question about the quality of art.

  13. @kitsune

    I’ll be watching that asap. I’ll tell you my thoughts later.

  14. […] YOU HAVE FAILED. Now! Your punishment! Nda! by musuBi! Persona 4 doujinshi! Tip-toply translated by ak the almighty! Happy happy clean non-sex fun! Protagonist/Souji Seta! Yosuke Hanamura! Chie Satonaka! Yukiko […]

  15. […] YOU HAVE FAILED. Now! Your punishment! Nda! by musuBi! Persona 4 doujinshi! Tip-toply translated by ak the almighty! Happy happy clean non-sex fun! Protagonist/Souji Seta! Yosuke Hanamura! Chie Satonaka! Yukiko […]

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