Magnolia Cemetery

There are many places one can find beautiful representations of the youthful girl. One such unlikely place spotlighted here in Pigtails in Paint is the cemetery. Nestled along the banks of the Cooper River in Charleston, South Carolina, Magnolia Cemetery originally opened in 1850 to serve the needs of the growing population of a bustling port city. This sprawling Victorian-style cemetery is home to Civil War generals, judges, mayors and other prominent members of society. As with most Victorian Era cemeteries of its time, Magnolia features numerous monuments, obelisks and large statues to comemorate the deceased. Unfortunately during that period, many young lives were lost to now treatable diseases. To memorialize their lost children, well-to-do families would commission a sculpture to place on the grave as a token of their sorrow. Such statues were not meant to resemble their lost child, but to represent virtues like purity and innocence. The craftsmanship and detail of theses statues have withstood hurricanes, earthquakes and war and have survived for generations. Below are some examples of the statues found within the walls of the cemetery and a brief description of those they watch over.

(Artist Unknown) - Tomb of Eliza Burnwell Heyward (1871) (1)

(Artist Unknown) – Tomb of Eliza Burnwell Heyward (1871) (1)

(Artist Unknown) - Tomb of Eliza Burnwell Heyward (1871) (2)

(Artist Unknown) – Tomb of Eliza Burnwell Heyward (1871) (2)

(Artist Unknown) - Tomb of Eliza Burnwell Heyward (1871) (3)

(Artist Unknown) – Tomb of Eliza Burnwell Heyward (1871) (3)

(Artist Unknown) - Tomb of Eliza Burnwell Heyward (1871) (4)

(Artist Unknown) – Tomb of Eliza Burnwell Heyward (1871) (4)

(Artist Unknown) - Tomb of Eliza Burnwell Heyward (1871) (3)

(Artist Unknown) – Tomb of Eliza Burnwell Heyward (1871) (5)

(Artist Unknown) - Tomb of Eliza Burnwell Heyward (1871) (6)

(Artist Unknown) – Tomb of Eliza Burnwell Heyward (1871) (6)

Eliza Barnwell Heyward (1871) died at a very young age.  As mentioned before, the statue was not meant to be a realistic likeness but represent her innocence as the girl casts her sorrowful gaze skyward.

(Artist Unknown) - Tomb of Annie Aiken (1856) (1)

(Artist Unknown) – Tomb of Annie Aiken (1856) (1)

(Artist Unknown) - Tomb of Annie Aiken (1856) (2)

(Artist Unknown) – Tomb of Annie Aiken (1856) (2)

(Artist Unknown) - Tomb of Annie Aiken (1856) (3)

(Artist Unknown) – Tomb of Annie Aiken (1856) (3)

Annie Kerr Aiken (1853-1856), or “Little Annie” as her vault reads, is resting in a large family plot at the south end beside a quiet lagoon. She is immortalized by the likeness of a sleeping child clutching a wreath to convey her eternal, peaceful sleep.

(Artist Unknown) - Tomb of Lizzie Patrick (1856) (1)

(Artist Unknown) – Tomb of Lizzie Patrick (1856) (1)

(Artist Unknown) - Tomb of Lizzie Patrick (1856) (2)

(Artist Unknown) – Tomb of Lizzie Patrick (1856) (2)

Lizzie Patrick (1853-1856) is eternally protected by this draped girl in the form of an angel.

If you do have an opportunity to visit Magnolia Cemetery, it is open to the public daily and has much to offer. Many other cemeteries dot the south and I do hope to bring more hidden treasures of the past for you to enjoy.

Product Placement? Rebecca Smart

The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) is one of many films that Pip told me about in the early days when we were sharing leads just after my involvement in Pigtails. I made every effort to get a look at all of them and those in which a little girl seemed pivotal to the story, I made a mental note. I was dismayed to discover that Rebecca’s (Rebecca Smart) name did not even appear in the opening credits. That is a serious oversight as she is an important catalyst to the story and provides valuable seamless exposition.

The other remarkable thing about this film is how its background centers around a real commercial product and yet the Coca-Cola Company had no involvement in the movie—except for having their logo and product appear as props. There is a disclaimer at the beginning of the film explaining there is no affiliation or endorsement implied and that the characters and story are completely fictional. I can’t help wondering if this disclaimer was added after production was completed or in anticipation of company complaints. Nevertheless, it is hard to imagine a film being made today that does not involve either deliberate product placement or, conversely, a generic fictional brand meant to resemble a real product.

In the story, a man named Becker (Eric Roberts) is sent from Atlanta to Australia to trouble-shoot the marketing and distribution operation there. The staff is warned that he is quirky but is a kind of “rain maker” who can get things accomplished. An equally quirky woman Terri (Greta Scacchi) is assigned as his secretary and the explanation for her periodic odd behavior is gradually revealed during the story. After a strange incident in the office with Terri’s ex-husband, Becker meets the 8-year-old Rebecca for the first time and learns that she is Terri’s daughter. In the first shot of her, we see her taking photocopies of her own face.

Frank Moorhouse, David Roe & Dušan Makavejev - The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) (1)

Frank Moorhouse, David Roe & Dušan Makavejev – The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) (1)

It is interesting to note that in the days before the hysteria over child predators, it was commonplace for grown-ups to touch children—even just after meeting them. In moments, Becker is picking Rebecca up, setting her on a counter and fixing her braid. She explains that her nickname is “DMZ” alluding to the fact that she is neutral ground when it comes to her parents’ fights.

Frank Moorhouse, David Roe & Dušan Makavejev - The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) (2)

Frank Moorhouse, David Roe & Dušan Makavejev – The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) (2)

The paradox of child characters is that their charm lies not only in their innocence but also in their precocity. Rebecca explains to her mom that she can tell that Becker likes her and decides she should bring him homemade cookies as an offering.

Frank Moorhouse, David Roe & Dušan Makavejev - The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) (3)

Frank Moorhouse, David Roe & Dušan Makavejev – The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) (3)

The relationship is quite rocky as Becker continues to deny any interest in this crazy and flustered woman and we do not get a clear resolution until the very end. There is a remarkable scene where Terri and Rebecca are showering together. Many films have short and simple bath scenes, but this one is unusual in its spaciousness. It is a large but intimate shower room and mother and daughter have a long casual conversation culminating in Rebecca’s recitation of the Rapunzel story.

Frank Moorhouse, David Roe & Dušan Makavejev - The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) (4)

Frank Moorhouse, David Roe & Dušan Makavejev – The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) (4)

Frank Moorhouse, David Roe & Dušan Makavejev - The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) (5)

Frank Moorhouse, David Roe & Dušan Makavejev – The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) (5)

Frank Moorhouse, David Roe & Dušan Makavejev - The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) (6)

Frank Moorhouse, David Roe & Dušan Makavejev – The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) (6)

It turns out that there is a kind of marketing desert in an area called Anderson Valley where a powerful and independent soft drink producer, T. George McDowell (Bill Kerr), has a monopoly. Becker’s self-appointed goal is to break this market impasse. In the dirty politics that ensue, Becker is framed in a way that makes him look like a fool, then Terri’s ex-husband turns up for another round of fights. Upset and embarrassed, Becker gets out of the line of fire while Rebecca consoles him, explaining the peculiarities of her parents’ relationship. She gently removes pieces of food that Becker received in the crossfire.

Frank Moorhouse, David Roe & Dušan Makavejev - The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) (7)

Frank Moorhouse, David Roe & Dušan Makavejev – The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) (7)

There are some bizarre twists in the end. First, Terri turns out to be McDowell’s estranged daughter and secondly, when McDowell realizes that he cannot win against such a sophisticated opponent, he suddenly decides to destroy his own plant. Distraught, Becker decides to leave the employ of Coca-Cola and in a final scene, he visits Terri’s apartment. Rebecca is there and, while waiting for her mother, he shows her his pet mouse that he takes with him everywhere. Upon Terri’s return, Rebecca offers a charming double entendre, “We have a new tenant, mommy!”

Frank Moorhouse, David Roe & Dušan Makavejev - The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) (8)

Frank Moorhouse, David Roe & Dušan Makavejev – The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) (8)

It is clear that Rebecca (“DMZ”) served an important function in bringing Becker and Terri together: acting as a steady sounding board for her mother and a source of comforting calm to Becker. Smart appeared in at least two other films while she was young: The Shiralee (1987) and Celia (1989). I have yet to view these movies so once I do, a few more comments and images are sure to follow.

Eva, Lovely Girl and Defective Robot

*** WARNING: CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS ***

Eva is a 2011 Spanish film by Kike Maíllo, usually considered to be science fiction. Outwardly it deals with robotics and one sees several animated robots in it with various roles from receptionist to pet; but to me, this feels like showing off. There is nevertheless a poetical aspect to them as they can be switched off by saying “What do you see when you close your eyes?”

Then there is Max, the perfect human-looking robotic butler, cook and cleaner, brilliantly played by Lluís Homar, who proactively takes care of everything in the house without needing any orders and can even adapt his emotional level to suit his client’s tastes; however, his personality seems too perfect and predictable to capture our interest.
There are also several discussions about science between the adult human characters: Julia (Anne Canovas), director of the robotics research program, Álex (Daniel Brühl), the scientist who strayed from the project for ten years, his brother David (Alberto Ammann), and Lana (Marta Etura), Álex’s former love now living with David. To a large extent, I find their talk pedantic, it looks like the script writers and the director know nothing about science, research and the people who make a living doing it.

Besides robotics, there is a bit of adult romance, with a love triangle between the two brothers and the woman they both love. However, I find this aspect of the film a pointless distraction from the real story.

So, where does the interest of this movie lie?  In Eva, it is the fascinating and beautiful ten-year-old girl played by Claudia Vega and her complex relationship with Álex.  Her name appears fifth in the opening credits, but deserves to be first (or at least second, after Brühl), since she is in fact central to the film.  The first image is of Claudia Vega as Eva.

Kike Maíllo – from Eva (2011) (1)

Here goes the story; the year is 2041. After ten years of absence abroad, Álex returns to Spain to resume his project of a new-generation robot indistinguishable from a human being. He is greeted by his brother David and meets again his colleague and former love Lana, who is now with David. After visiting Julia’s laboratory at the university and discussing it with her, Álex decides to work on his project in his late father’s house outside town, which has a lab in the basement. There he gets Max to take care of his material needs. Looking for a model for his robot, he meets Eva in the street. Being invited to dine at Lana’s home, he discovers that Eva is in fact her daughter.  Here we see Eva with Lana.

Eva with Lana

Kike Maíllo – from Eva (2011) (2)

In the following days, Eva bicycles to his house, and he works on experiments with her in his lab, measuring her emotional reactions to design the psychology of his new robot. Here, Eva is inside Álex’s lab.

Eva inside Álex's lab

Kike Maíllo – from Eva (2011) (3)

Álex becomes attached to her. After flirting with Lana followed by a fight with the jealous David, Lana visits Álex in his lab and reveals that during his ten-year absence, she completed his robot project, and that Eva is the result—a robot, not a girl. But Eva is listening from a window just above the basement. This shot shows Eva listening.

Eva listening through the window

Kike Maíllo – from Eva (2011) (4)

Panicked at the revelation, Eva flees to the mountains where she has a battery failure and becomes unconscious. Lana finds her and replaces the battery. Waking up, Eva feels betrayed and, still panicked, pushes Lana over a cliff and runs back to Álex’s house where Max takes care of her. Then Julia comes and tells Álex that when Eva was built, she did not pass the security tests, so was supposed to be deactivated, but Lana took the initiative of halting the procedure so Eva could live with her. Julia insists that Eva must be switched off, saying that she is not a human being and that “she did not hesitate to kill Lana”. Álex answers that he will do it himself.

The most interesting part of the film comes on the last day. Álex greets Eva with, “Good morning, princess”. After an outing with Max to go skating and see the mountains, Eva tells Álex “I want to become a gentle little girl” before their return home. The final scene has a strong erotic undercurrent; in the lab, Eva takes Álex by the hand, goes to a bed, takes off her shoes and lies down on it. Holding Álex’s hand, she tells him how Lana used to read her a tale from the Arabian Nights about a princess marked for death by her prince thwarting execution by reciting endless stories to him night after night. Eva falls into Álex’s arms, begging for his protection when he says the fateful sentence, “What do you see when you close your eyes?”; she collapses and dreams about being in a family with Álex and Lana.

Kike Maíllo - from Eva (2011) (5)

Kike Maíllo – from Eva (2011) (5)

In the relationship between Álex and Eva, there are allusions to a “predator” theme. The first time they meet, as he watches her from his car, she jokingly calls him a pervert; when he gives her a single piece of candy, she jests that he is a “professional pervert”. Her tale is also suggestive of Little Red Riding Hood; first, because she wears a red cloak, but also because in visiting Álex in his lab, she disobeys Lana’s order never to leave town with her bike.  Here, Eva is seen wearing her red cloak.

Eva wearing her red cloak

Kike Maíllo – from Eva (2011) (6)

Director Kike Maíllo gave several interviews to French and Spanish cinema journals and one can get an idea of his views about the mind and behaviour of Eva; I have translated some excerpts from a few French ones.

In an interview with Cinespagne, the journalist mentions that Eva:

“…is a woman in the body of a little girl”, and Maíllo says, “It is a character difficult to define, since one never knows where she stands. Is she flirting with Álex or is she having a friendship?”

In Films-horreur.com, the journalist mentions that “the relationship between Eva and Álex is rather peculiar” and Maíllo says:

“Álex, the programmer, is looking for a model for his child robot and he finally chooses Eva, who is not really a 10-year-old little girl. Anyway, the jokes that she throws at him and her actions (verging on flirtation) are not those of a girl her age. Her character is written as a woman in the body of a child—a Lolita in some way.”

On Fantasy.fr, he says:

“But because she is a woman in the body of a child, she is a Lolita. She is clearly not a child as one would think…For me, Álex is not interested in children; they bore him. When he sees them at the university, he remains indifferent. It is just because she is very special; she speaks like an adult. She is able to understand and play with the word ‘pervert’ just like an adult. This is something that you would hear from the mouth of a 16-year-old adolescent, not of a 10-year-old girl.”

These words illustrate the relentless tendency of our culture to incapacitate and desexualize young people at ever increasing ages. In reality, children are very curious about sexuality; they gather whatever information they can from playground talk or the internet. Long ago, I personally heard an 8-year-old make a sensible jest about “dykes”. Moreover, at age 10, children are able to elaborate rational judgments, and their sexual orientation is to a large extent established. Hence adults are regularly astonished by the feats of preteens, in awe and wonder at an 11-year-old who behaved responsibly as a rational adult in a critical situation, explaining afterward that she just did what she had learned, or a 13-year-old who performed good scientific research leading to real applications; but conversely, adults become both frightened and fascinated by so-called “Lolitas”, girls who express their natural sexuality.

In all pre-industrial cultures, teenagers were treated as adults and in many “primitive” societies, children at around age 10 underwent initiations, often painful, in order to mark their passage into adulthood.  In fact, there is nothing abnormal in Eva’s behaviour with Álex; she is just an intelligent and autonomous girl.

Another problem is the harshness of the decision to terminate Eva because, as a humanoid robot, she is “dangerous” and committed a homicide. Indeed, sometimes children accidentally or intentionally kill people, but they are not killed in return. Are artificially intelligent beings not given the same human rights?

In an interview with Abus de Ciné, Maíllo states,

“In my film, the point of view is always carried by the humans, on the capacity to forget that one is facing a machine—above all, if one wants to create a link, a relationship. In ‘A.I.’, this point of view goes very far. It lets us think that a day will come when machines will be so evolved that they will be able to have feelings. Personally, I don’t believe it. They will always be characters; they play roles, deceive us, imitate us. They are only reflections.”

One sees here that the director really thinks of artificial humans like Eva as inherently soulless and defective and that they could never be like humans. In fact, they are deviant, thus they do not deserve a human life. Eva’s abnormality, confirmed at the end, was suggested at an earlier moment in the film, when she takes psychological tests and we see that she does not correctly interpret emotions in human faces—a bit like autistics.

In Steven Spielberg’s film, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, the robot child was considered defective by humans, but he was finally redeemed as humanity became extinct and were replaced by robots. There is no such prospect for Eva.

Deviance was first identified and persecuted under religious authority, using the term heresy. The heretic seems pious, but is not, since he actually serves the Devil. Only the orthodox can be a good person. The orthodox sins despite his faith, while the heretic sins because of his perverse belief. Later on, the clergy was replaced in part by psychiatry (as explained by Thomas Szasz), and the deviant became the madman, then the sexual pervert; the latter idea took other names such as sexual psychopath, predator or paraphiliac. His vice has evolved through the last two centuries, from masturbation to homosexuality and finally to pedophilia. The sexual deviant does not feel love, but only lust. The orthodox heterosexual seeks happiness, falls in love and engages in courtship; the deviant seeks sexual gratification, targets a victim and engages in selfish grooming and manipulation. Sex crimes committed by the orthodox are just individual cases of anti-social behaviours; the same crimes committed by the deviant are supposedly an expression of his true perverted nature.

So deviants are to be removed from society, the religious heretics were burned and the sexual ones are locked up (sometimes remaining so after serving their sentences), or subjected to chemical castration; and robots can simply be switched off. However, as Alex Proyas’ film I, Robot showed magisterially, perfect obedience and conformity on the part of robots leads to tyranny, so robotic deviance is necessary to preserve freedom. I guess the same holds for human beings.

The great mathematician Alan Turing, who during World War II helped crack the secret codes of the German Navy and invented the principles of computers—and proving the extent of their limitations—also discussed the intelligence of machines. He proposed the “Turing Test” which stated that a machine interacting with humans—that is indistinguishable from a human being—must have intelligence; he answered the numerous objections to the idea of a machine’s mind. Incidentally, he was a sexual deviant by the standards in the UK of the fifties and he was convicted for homosexual behaviour. In order to avoid prison, he was forced to undergo chemical castration before later committing suicide.

A film critique (in French) by Olivier Bachelard in Abus de Ciné says about the character of Eva:

“However the latter does not appear sufficiently ambiguous to make us adhere to an idea of potential danger.” It concludes, “…a tension that rises progressively, without reaching for peaks. It is there that the film disappoints somewhat. By excessive gentility, it remains inside political correctness, engenders little suspense and remains within the domain of gentle illustration, despite its discourse about latent violence. It is as though maybe someone used the famous reinitialization sentence on the director, ‘What do you see when you close your eyes?’. One would have liked to see a real thriller. They preferred to offer us a little film targeting families. One comes away a little bit disappointed, but subjugated by some images.”

Indeed, in some ways Kike Maíllo spoiled his own film by remaining stuck to the infantilizing “family” style and not daring to challenge current prejudices about everything that is not “normal”.  Here, we see Eva approaching Álex’s lab.

Eva coming to Álex's lab

Kike Maíllo – from Eva (2011) (7)

Video interview of Kike Maíllo in AlloCiné (in English with French subtitles, and commentary in French).

Maiden Voyages: October 2014

I did not intend to issue a ‘Maiden Voyages’ this month due to the slowdown in publishing, but there are a few items of note that need to be shared.  I always tend to slow down in September because that is when things get busy for me.  Because Pigtails is a creative endeavor, I don’t want to push myself when I am not feeling creative.  I have also reached a kind of equilibrium where I managed to get a few big projects out of the way and I it feels like a natural point to take a rest before forging ahead.  I have three projects that require some follow-up research and I think I will try to put out a few short posts this month to clear up some of the backlog.

First of all, I’d like to thank those guest authors who contributed posts in the last month. So far, they have all expressed an interest in contributing on an ongoing basis.  There are two or three others promising articles, so perhaps we will see them in the coming month.

The biggest news is that as of August 22, 2014, Pigtails in Paint has been blocked in Russia.  This is upsetting since Russia (and other members of the Federation) represent a large proportion of internet users.  Supporters of the site are strategizing ways of overcoming this obstacle.  I do not want this site to be relegated to the underground because of the obnoxious efforts of moral bigots.  I also want to point out that because writers of this blog take particular political positions, this site is especially vulnerable as detractors can use the nudity to justify blocking the site even thought their real objection may be to our political position.  Another point I should make for those who want to ensure continued access to this site: learn to use proxy servers.  Even if your country blocks this site, it does not mean the site is shut down.  Proxy servers are designed specifically for the purpose of reaching “invisible” sites and offering anonymity for those who visit them.  And though it is true that a large number of these sites engage in illegal weapons sales, pornography, activities regarded as terrorism etc., some have been the unfortunate victims of heavy-handed politics and every effort must be made to keep Pigtails from falling into that category.  The most recommended proxy of this type is Tor but, in time, this may change.

There is some closure in the matter of the Záhořová post.  One of our readers attempted to order prints and finally received a response from the museum offering to sell them.  You can read the details at the end of the post here.

Also, due to the request of several readers, a few additional images have been added to the Wyatt Neumann post.

 

The Little Girl in Mark Ryden

The first thing someone might be interested to know about Mark Ryden is that in the 90s when he was still working as a commercial artist, years before he was to became “the grandfather of pop-surrealism”, he was acquainted with Michael Jackson and did the album cover for Dangerous. Mark is unfortunately mum about the time they spent together.

Mark Ryden - album cover Michael Jackson's "Dangerous" (1991)

Mark Ryden – album cover Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” (1991)

Ten years later, Mark was on a new career path. Having shifted from commercial to fine art, he rose to Art World superstar—selling his paintings for six figures and having his exploits followed by celebrities like Nicholas Cage, Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp.

“His work had become increasingly popular through mass exposure, particularly in the Low Brow Art publications HI-FRUCTOSE and Juxtapoz.” (Joseph R. Givens, LOWBROW ART)

Mark Ryden - Incarnation (2010); Magazine Cover "Juxtapoz" December '11

Mark Ryden – Incarnation (2010); Magazine Cover “Juxtapoz” December ’11

Lowbrow Art emerged in the 70s and its unofficial spokesman is Robert Williams, who coined the phrase. But by the late 90s the movement was splitting in two. In one camp were the loud, sarcastic, anti-establishment originators while in the other were a new breed of artist who painted with exacting technique, referenced the Old Masters and began to appear in major galleries, being accepted by the canon. The term “Pop Surrealism” was first used by the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum for their 1998 show. Mark, and others like him, who had been educated by the very artists the early Lowbrow artists rejected, brought figurative art back to the fine art scene for nearly the first time since Abstract Expressionism had wiped it out almost a century ago.

Mark Ryden - Instagram; Queen Bee (2013)

Mark Ryden – Instagram; Queen Bee (2013)

Mark Ryden names as his own classical artistic inspirations: David, Ingres, Bougereau, and Bronzino (BL!SSS Magazine). Girl art fans will realize that Bougereau painted Before the Bath, The Little Thief, The Nut Gatherers and so on, while Bronzino immortalized Bia de’ Medici. Contemporary artists who inspired Mark include Marion Peck, James Rosenquist, Loretta Lux, Ana Bagayan, Julie Heffernan, John Currin, Darren Waterston, Neo Rauch, and maybe not surprisingly, Balthus (Brian Sherwin, Fanny Giniès, HI-FRUCTOSE, The World Observer).

Marion Peck is none other than Mark’s ex-wife. They were powerfully inspired by one another.

Marion Peck - Peaceful Slumber (2007)

Marion Peck – Peaceful Slumber (2007)

The same clean, cutesy sentimentality often pervades both their paintings.

Mark Ryden - Awakening the Moon (2010)

Mark Ryden – Awakening the Moon (2010)

Mark attributes his deep realizations about philosophy to Marion: “he had been asleep; his spirituality was ‘isolated, and…progressed slowly’ before they met” (Amanda Erlanson, Juxtapoz, 2011).

Mark Ryden - The Apology (2007)

Mark Ryden – The Apology (2007)

Not a few of Mark’s little girls on wood panels are reminiscent of another artist who graced the covers of HI-FRUCTOSE and Juxtapoz: Audrey Kawasaki.

Mark Ryden - Oak Tree Nymph (2006)

Mark Ryden – Oak Tree Nymph (2006)

Or from this series painted on wood slabs:

Mark Ryden - Girl Color Study (2006)

Mark Ryden – Girl Color Study (2006)

Mark is trying to evoke wonder. His paintings are laden with metaphysical allusions and all sorts of things which are puzzling and ponderous: Cyrillic and Chinese script, numerology, religious iconography, meat and little girls and on and on. Of meat, Mark explains, “it’s dualistic: it’s just a packaged product, and at the same time it is a symbol of the other side, meat is our living avatar in the world.”

Mark Ryden - The Meat Train (2000)

Mark Ryden – The Meat Train (2000)

But Mark’s signature inspiration, which gives his work it’s idiomatic style, is swap-meet junk: kitsch, sentimental, nostalgic, melodramatic camp such as figurines of Jesus and Abraham Lincoln, big eyed bobble-headed dolls, old toys, and taxidermied animals. Mark’s flea-market finds define his painting—a regular cast of which appear in nearly every one of his works.

Mark Ryden - The Piano Player (2010)

Mark Ryden – The Piano Player (2010)

Mark has also been influenced and inspired by his daughter Rosie.

Eric Minh Swenson - Marion, Mark, and daughter Rosie (2014)

Eric Minh Swenson – Marion, Mark, and Daughter Rosie (2014)

He included Rosie in many of his paintings, one of which later appeared on the cover of HI-FRUCTOSE.

HI-FRUCTOSE Vol.3 - Mark Ryden - Rosie's Tea Party (2006)

HI-FRUCTOSE Vol.3 – Mark Ryden – Rosie’s Tea Party (2005)

“I photographed my daughter Rosie for the Tea Party painting several years ago. It was the first time she ever modeled for me. She took to it with unbelievable skill even at the age of three. Now she is almost eight and she still loves to pose for me. I usually have a sketch that she imitates. She instinctively understands the expression and gesture needed for a pose. I use her as a model even when the figure is not going to be a likeness of her. The little girl in Rosie’s Tea Party is an actual portrait of her. It is fun to have her face in the painting but it is more difficult and very different creatively than the faces I invent. Rosie enjoys being in my art. She and Jasper (my son) seem to understand my art better than many adults. They respond to it instinctively and they don’t over-intellectualize it. Unlike adults they don’t get stuck, they just experience it. Children in general respond well to my art. I feel I have been successful when a child is captivated by one of my paintings” (Annie Owens, HI-FRUCTOSE, 2006).

Mark Ryden - Instagram; Meat Dancer (2011)

Mark Ryden – Instagram; Meat Dancer (2011)

Mark sees a special relationship between children and art and has often mused on the topic:

“One of my favorite quotes is by Picasso: ‘All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.’ I think this is very true. When making art, children can be so much more imaginative than adults. I think a quality that defines many successful artists is that they never lose a sense of wonder of the amazing world around us. I think it comes rather automatically when one is young” (Nate Pollard, Verbiside Magazine, 2013).

“It is only in childhood that contemporary society truly allows for imagination. Children can see a world ensouled, where bunnies weep and bees have secrets, where ‘inanimate’ objects are alive. Many people think that childhood’s world of imagination is silly, unworthy of serious consideration, something to be outgrown” (Artist Statement – “Wondertoonel”, 2004).

“Children have no inhibitions when making their art. I’ve never seen my 4 year old son have a creative block; and his art is much more interesting than most adult’s art. Children are miraculous” (Artist Statement – “The Meat Show”, 1998).

Mark Ryden - Instagram; The Creatix (2005)

Mark Ryden – Instagram; The Creatix (2005)

Children appear often in Mark Ryden’s artwork, but it is especially female children–little girls–who haunt his canvases and sketch pads.

Mark Ryden - Saint Barbie (1994)

Mark Ryden – Saint Barbie (1994)

Mark talks plainly and directly about the value he puts on the feminine and of the danger of ignoring it:

“As you look back into what has gone on in western civilization, you can see that patriarchy has been the cause of much strife and suffering in our world. It is the masculine dynamic that has caused our society to place money and corporate profit above human beings. It has allowed the earth to be viewed only as a commodity to be exploited. The feminine perspective sees things differently. She sees the earth and all its inhabitants as entities to be revered and cared for. She sees individual human beings as more important than the relentless advance of capitalism and competition. It is my hope, perhaps indirectly expressed in my work, that the divine feminine is reawakening”(Gachman, Interview Magazine).

One critic, Elliott David, has suggested likewise of the little girl in Mark Ryden, “Hidden in these girls’ oversized eyes is the imperialism and the blood of heritage aristocracy, a sort of false innocence that might imply evil but is really coy subversiveness lurking within.”

Mark Ryden - sketch for Pine Tree Nymph (2006)

Mark Ryden – Sketch for ‘Pine Tree Nymph’ (2006)

Mark is himself mostly elusive about the meaning of the little girl in his work:

“There are many symbolic meanings in my art that I myself am not necessarily conscious of.  The most powerful meanings in art come from another source outside an artist’s own literal consciousness. To me, tapping into this world is the key to making the most interesting art. Some people find my refusal to explain everything in my work deeply dissatisfying. They can’t stand mystery.”  (Joseph R. Givens, LOWBROW ART).

Or,

“I like for viewers of my paintings to feel presence of meaning and story but I like for them to come up with their own interpretations. I think if I explain too much of a painting away the painting loses a sense of mystery and curiosity” (Kitty Mead, Art Beat Street).

Mark Ryden - Sophia's Bubbles (2008)

Mark Ryden – Sophia’s Bubbles (2008)

While Amanda Erlanson observed that, “Languid girls who exude both a doll-like innocence and a knowing sensuality appear in nearly every painting.” None-the-less, when asked by Maxwell Williams: “[a]nother leitmotif of your paintings are young girls. Why do you feel your world is populated by these waifish little girls, and how did this evolve?” Mark replied, “A lot of people can’t get past the sexual part of a girl. For me, there’s truly nothing sexual at all” (Juxtapoz; Hollywood Reporter).
Mark Ryden - from "Pinxit" (2011); The Long Yak (2008)

Mark Ryden – From ‘Pinxit’ (2011); The Long Yak (2008)

Mark is so coy about the meaning of the little girl in his work because she is mysterious to him too.  He says, “I’ve had to think about that myself and work backwards.  My wife actually said something really funny, and I think she’s right, in that they’re sort of self-portraits. They’re anima figures; they’re soul figures… They’re sort of everybody. They’re you when you’re looking at the painting.”

Marion Peck expands on the little girl as self-portrait idea: “each of the girls Mark paints is in one sense a self-portrait. In his paintings, the anima manifests as Sophia—the muse, the fount of creativity, and the goddess of wisdom” (Amanda Erlanson, Juxtapoz, 2011).

Mark Ryden - Allegory of the Four Elements (2006)

Mark Ryden – Allegory of the Four Elements (2006)

But not everyone loves the little girls in Mark Ryden. Robert Williams satirized them in a drawing in which the cartoon girl’s head is so big she can’t hold it up; Joseph R. Givens explains, “Mocking Ryden’s sentimental themes, Williams drew a banner above the melancholy figure with the words ‘caring, nurturing, fawning.’ As a slight to Ryden’s childlike persona, Williams signed his drawing ‘Bobbie Wms.'”

Robert Williams - Pop Surrealism (2011)

Robert Williams – Pop Surrealism (2011)

Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine what is actually anti-establishment as opposed to conformist about Robert Williams’ pornographic ultra-violence. Sexualization of women, callousness and blood are almost the most monotonous things someone could paint, perfectly in step with the patriarchy.  Elliott David’s perception that the girl in Mark Ryden “is really coy subversiveness [of] imperialism” is a keen one.  Mark’s work and his portrayal of the little girl is personally vulnerable, sensitive, and touching—precious qualities to be sure.

Mark Ryden - Yak Dream (2008)

Mark Ryden – Yak Dream (2008)

Pip Starr did a post on Mark Ryden a couple years back as well so visit here to see more. It includes a closeup of the girl in the Dangerous poster and a couple of interesting comments. -Ron

Mark Ryden’s personal site

Crying Over Spilt Camera: Ève Morcrette

While investigating new leads in a French publication discussing the modern portrayal of girls, I came across an image I had initially mistaken as that of Eva Ionesco. A colleague of mine corrected my misperception and told me the girl’s name was Elsa and that an entire book, Elsa (1999),  was devoted to her childhood, lovingly documented by her aunt, Ève Morcrette.

Ève Morcrette - Rue François-Miron (1990)

Ève Morcrette – Rue François-Miron (1990)

The book is a visual tale, interspersed with poetry, of a developing relationship and obsession in which Morcrette bonded with her little niece. Like many such endeavors, the artist got the opportunity to examine and relive her own childhood vicariously through Elsa, as though she were watching a version of her own sister from the past. The work appears to have developed in two stages. First, Morcrette found herself chasing Elsa, camera at the ready, sometimes coaxing her to cooperate by inventing some game or other. In those early days, she recalls taking pictures surreptitiously, hiding behind bushes and whatnot, hoping to catch a precious shot. One will notice how many of the early images are a blur of action and sometimes Morcrette was simply not fast enough to capture it.

Ève Morcrette - Rue Perdonnet (1986)

Ève Morcrette – Rue Perdonnet (1986)

Ève Morcrette - La Vallée (1985)

Ève Morcrette – La Vallée (1985)

Ève Morcrette - Le Ninian (1984)

Ève Morcrette – Le Ninian (1984)

At some point, Elsa, being self-conscious about fitting in with other kids, refused to let her aunt take any more pictures of her for a year. However, after that, a new collaboration emerged and Elsa began to take an active role in the production by handling the equipment, setting up the staging, choosing the costumes and helping with the lighting.

Ève Morcrette - La Ville-Bizeul (1993)

Ève Morcrette – La Ville-Bizeul (1993)

Ève Morcrette - Rue Cavé (1989)

Ève Morcrette – Rue Cavé (1989)

One memorable incident brought to light how the photographic sessions became an integral part of their personal bond. By accident,‭ Elsa dropped Morcrette’s ‬Leica camera, breaking it. When the impact of what had happened hit them, they found themselves embracing each other and weeping bitterly over the incident.

Given the personal nature of this exploration, it is surprising that virtually no biographical information can be found on Morcrette, except for her artistic accolades. It would be reasonable to say that she was probably born around 1960 in or around Paris, France. Elsa was born in July 1980, but Morcrette was not compelled to start photographing her until 1983—her first picture taken next to the living room window in an apartment in Paris.

Later, Elsa had a little brother, Alix. When he got old enough, he began to resent his aunt’s lavish attention on Elsa and would mischievously hide her equipment, much to her distress. Morcrette regrets the anger she expressed during those times, which often brought her to tears. Another important addition to the family was a tabby cat named Duchess and so in those later years, pictures of Alix and Duchess also began to appear.

Ève Morcrette - Avec Alix. Ruillé-sur-Loir (1997)

Ève Morcrette – Avec Alix. Ruillé-sur-Loir (1997)

Morcrette exposed Elsa to culture, sometimes taking her on trips to Britain. In 1998, the work concluded and Elsa moved on to the next chapter of her life—going to school to study film and falling in love. The artist got a number of awards for her work, but it should never be forgotten that both photographer and model worked together to create this work, acting as mirrors of each other through time.

Ève Morcrette - La Ville-Bizeul (1996)

Ève Morcrette – La Ville-Bizeul (1996)

Ève Morcrette official site

Alpha Girls and Secret Agents

It occurred to me after working on Pigtails in Paint for a short time that it was too easy for people to regard the appeal of little girls as a superficial exploration. I knew in my heart that there was some unspoken importance to this phenomenon, but that it would be hard for the general public to take it seriously. I decided to make a conscious effort to include more overtly socially-relevant posts, starting with ‘The “V” Word’. Naturally, Pigtails was not going to shy away from the more intimate, charming and controversial expressions of little girls, but I did not want it to be just another showcase of eye-candy.

Little did I realize that after the posting of ‘State-of-the-Art Exploitation’, there would be an almost unending series of serious issues involving little girls—and by extension, women. I have recently discovered a number of university lectures that can be viewed online by Professor Sut Jhally of the University of Massachusetts (Amherst). Jhally’s work makes me think of where I might be in the years to come. Like me, he has been a prolific reader and viewer of documentaries. Because he watches and analyzes the media intensely, he has an amazing collection of images and videos—some of which he helped produce—that he uses to illustrate his talks. His expanding contribution to the analysis of the modern market economy and how it influences our culture is too great to cover here, so readers can expect me to make periodic ongoing references to Jhally’s scholarship.

One of the most shocking revelations has to do specifically with little girls—what marketers refer to as “tween girls”. I already mentioned in ‘State of the Art Exploitation’ that one of the most important markets is children, but until now, I had not realized that it was the most important market. Children influence the purchasing choices of adults amounting to over $300 billion per year. With the advent of television, marketers began to realize that they could have exclusive access to a malleable and influential demographic. Saturday morning and after school shows began to advertise toys and other products for children. Of particular concern was the ubiquitous presence of unhealthy sugary cereals in targeted programming. In response, Action for Children’s Television (ACT), established in 1968, began to petition the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take action about this distressing exploitation of the most naive members of our society. In 1977, the FTC proposed some seemingly reasonable guidelines, but the powerful food industry fought back hard and through its influence turned the FTC into the impotent agency it is today. What few concessions might have been made to ACT evaporated during the Reagan Administration’s mania for deregulation. A powerful illustration of the importance of little girls in market analysis is a program called the Girls Intelligence Agency. A special news report on this organization was aired on CBS—some of which can be seen in a film called Consuming Kids (2008).

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Kim Kennedy - from CBS's Born to Buy? (c2005)

It is remarkable to think that billions in marketing dollars are spent on the decisions girls as young as 8 make. On the surface, this may seem empowering to girls, but when analyzed carefully, the fact is that companies are just using these girls as a relatively cheap source—cheap for the research companies, not their clients—of market research.  As shocking as this development may seem, there are companies that do something called ethnographic research where psychologists essentially stalk—with parental consent and compensation—children to observe how they interact with products, even following them into the bathroom to note their behavior during bathing or showering! An excellent book on the modern paradigm of children’s marketing is Born to Buy (2005) by Juliet B. Schor. Schor also adds that although the parents of the alpha girl sign a permission form and are aware of the nature of the event and are compensated, none of the guests are.  Any time your little girl is invited to a large slumber party, you may want to double-check what is really going on.

Also of great relevance is Jhally’s analysis of gender roles in society. Particularly, the escalating portrayals of masculinity offer some clues to the latest hysteria about child nudity and sexuality and readers can expect some of these points to appear in future posts as well.

Relevant Sut Jhally lectures here, here and here
Official Sut Jhally website
Media Education Foundation (MEF) videos website

 

Phan Thị Kim Phúc

Kim Phúc led the ordinary life of a little girl in the village of Trảng Bàng in the southern part of Vietnam. Then suddenly in 1972 she became a tragic icon of the cruel war that ravaged her country. On June 8th, South Vietnamese planes dropped napalm bombs on her village. Kim Phúc was badly burned and she tore off her burning clothes. Associated Press photographer Nick Ut took several pictures of the group of fleeing villagers, in particular one centered on that little girl running naked and screaming in terror and pain; in fact, she was screaming “too hot, too hot!”

KimPhucAP

Nick Ut – (untitled) (1972)

This image was so shocking that U.S. President Richard Nixon at first doubted its authenticity. It was used in anti-war posters and contributed to the movement for the withdrawal of the United States from Vietnam. It also won Nick Ut the Pulitzer Prize.

Less well-known is the film shot by British television cameraman Alan Downes for the British ITN news service. In it, one can see the horrible burns left by napalm with the skin peeling off on large parts of the body. Here are two pictures from that film, showing Kim Phúc’s burned and peeling skin. One also sees the reporter Christopher Wain giving her water and pouring some over her burns.

KimPhucITN1

Alan Downes (1972) (1)

KimPhucITN2

Alan Downes (1972) (2)

Later Kim Phúc was used by the government of a reunified Vietnam as a propaganda symbol. She finally settled in Canada with her husband.

According to an article in the Inquisition 21st century website, AP was at first reluctant to publish Ut’s photograph because of the little girl’s frontal nudity and one of its editors even rejected it. But finally it was wisely decided that an exception should be made because of the news value of the picture. However no close-up of Kim Phúc alone would be transmitted.

Since then this picture, because of its fame, has defied the U.S. ban on pictures of childhood nudity and nobody tried to censor it. However, the same cannot be said of the ITN pictures; here is an edition where Kim Phúc’s flat chest is hidden by a black rectangle.

KimPhucCensor

Alan Downes (censored version) (1972)

As noted in the article mentioned above and the comment attached to it, this shows the grotesque and obscene mind of the censors, who are shocked not so much by the horrible napalm burns, but by the idea that the pre-pubescent chest of a nine-year-old girl could be viewed as “sexual”.

Phan Thị Kim Phúc Wikipedia page

Kim Phúc Interview

Badge of Honor

I discovered the incredible story of photographer Wyatt Neumann I felt had to be shared to expose the ignorant nature of an uninformed and, frankly, brainwashed populace who would verbally condemn a father for images he shared online of his young daughter.  Even more noteworthy is Mr. Neumann’s response to his attackers—fighting back with grace and facts and with the very images he was so maligned for posting.

The Safari, NYC - (untitled) (2014)

The Safari, NYC – (untitled) (2014)

“These compelling images of children, taken by their father, have been scrutinized and censored by conservatives who deemed them pornography. Along with the images will be the statements made by these people, people who hide behind the cloak of Internet, attacking real people from a veil of anonymity. This work unintentionally documents censorship in the Information Age, an issue we are just beginning to understand.”  -KP Lawless, Safari Gallery

“In my photographs, some people see innocence and beauty, while others see only sexual victimization and violence. It’s an interesting lesson in the power of fear and fundamentalism, and the aggression that it can spawn. It’s also a mirror that we can look at and see ourselves looking back. It’s a chance to decide how we want to view the world, and to decide what kind of world we want to create. For ourselves, our futures, and the future we leave for our children.”  -Wyatt Neumann

Wyatt Neumann, (Untitled) (2014)

Wyatt Neumann, (Untitled) (2014)

Learn more about this story in this Huffington Post article and from The Safari Gallery in New York which exhibited his work using one of the narrow-minded comments he received as a badge of honor: “I feel sorry for your children.”

Particularly moving is a short video on YouTube about Mr. Neumann, the knee-jerk hysteria that ensued and the support which came from other families with children.

[September 23, 2014] A number of readers expressed an interest in seeing more of the Neumann images and another was kind enough to offer a selection from the book.  With each image I will state Neumann’s comment, then the rude comment published in the book, then mine.  Neumann’s handle is #dadlife.  -Ron

Neumann: here you go: a not-so-rare sighting of not-so-elusive wild stella in her not-so-natural habitat. (at Navajo Nation, AZ)

Commenter: One photo where his daughter was crouched naked on the highway in the middle of the desert, looking like a feral cat.  The look on her face is disturbing.

Me: What I find disturbing (and I think I can speak for Rousseau as well) is that some grown-ups are so spiritually bereft that they cannot enjoy and appreciate the animal spirits of very young children.

Wyatt Neumann - from I Feel Sorry for your Children (2014) (1)

Wyatt Neumann – from I Feel Sorry for your Children (2014) (1)

Neumann: Swan Song.

Commenter: It’s not just his daughter he’s exploiting, either. He has one of his son where he’s throwing him up in the air, naked, with his penis flying.

Me: Unmitigated Joy. (and a great shot to boot!)

Wyatt Neumann - from I Feel Sorry for your Children (2014) (2)

Wyatt Neumann – from I Feel Sorry for your Children (2014) (2)

Neumann: everything good in the world lives within the eyes of my children.

Commenter: Every good thing you are and every good thing you do is cancelled out by the fact that you exploit your children.  You truly have no right to do this to them.

Me: Every good parent should be lucky enough to have such a tender and candid shot of their child.

Wyatt Neumann - from I Feel Sorry for your Children (2014) (3)

Wyatt Neumann – from I Feel Sorry for your Children (2014) (3)

Neumann: definition of true happiness: driving down the highway with all the windows rolled down, cranking “out of the blue” by julian casablancas and singing at the top of my lungs to my screaming and giggling baby girl… ❤❤❤

Commenter: He’s such a passive aggressive little diva.  #dadlife? More like #douchelife

Me: It’s called being irreverent (and more unmitigated self-expression on Stella’s part).  We could use a little more of that in our society.  Shouldn’t he at least be given credit for securing her properly in a child seat?

Wyatt Neumann - from I Feel Sorry for your Children (2014) (4)

Wyatt Neumann – from I Feel Sorry for your Children (2014) (4)

This image appears with no text and falls on the copyright page.  I’m surprised there was not some comment condemning this community for allowing a half-naked child to be in their midst.

Wyatt Neumann - from I Feel Sorry for your Children (2014) (5)

Wyatt Neumann – from I Feel Sorry for your Children (2014) (5)

Out of the Inkpot: Oyari Ashito

Many years ago, I worked at a print shop for some extra holiday income. I can’t remember how the subject came up, but another young man there introduced me to the new phenomenon of Japanese anime/manga. One of the earliest incarnations of this new formula was Sailor Moon. Not knowing much about biology, psychology or art history, the peculiar exaggerations of the characters’ features seemed unremarkable to me. I was amused to learn that though the animated program had targeted little girls, it was middle-aged men who were the most rabid fans.

Later, I did learn more about science and the humanities and now understand more about the unconscious appeal the characters have on the male mind. I took no further notice of anime until perhaps five years ago when I spotted a book called GIRLS AD2008 TOKYO (2003) by Oyari Ashito. This image appeared on the cover.

Oyari Ashito - In Dark Red (2001)

Oyari Ashito – In Dark Red (2001)

Unlike those in the past, these images caught my eye. The girls were adorable, of course, but Ashito’s work had a delicate quality that gave his images the feel of traditional Oriental watercolors.

Oyari Ashito - Talk with Teddy Bear (c2000)

Oyari Ashito – Talk with Teddy Bear (c2000)

The other striking thing was that a large number of the images showed little girls wearing cat’s ears and tails. This evoked fond memories from my adolescence when girls would dress as cats, devils, angels, tigers, rabbits etc. for Halloween. I still haven’t got a full handle on the logic of this psychological impact yet, but somehow ears and a tail add something appealing to young girls and this post is an effort to advance my personal analysis. The book is a collection of images of girls mostly designed for a video game by developer Littlewitch. My favorites are the main characters in Episode of the Clovers named Sayu, Toka and Ema (left to right).

Oyari Ashito - from Episode of the Clovers (2002)

Oyari Ashito – from Episode of the Clovers (2002)

Born Shinichi Nochise “Nocchi” (後瀬 慎一) in 1974, Ashito got his start in the 1990s doing art for adult comics. At the same time, he was working on getting his art noticed through a kind of self-publishing collective the Japanese call a doujinshi. His big break came in 2001 when he helped produce the characters and backgrounds for a series of visual novels produced by Littlewitch. Because of the different genres he works in, his art has appeared under different names but Oyari Ashito (大槍葦人) is associated with his Littlewitch work. After the disbanding of Littlewitch in 2008, he continued his work with a new doujinshi entitling it “Girl Knights”.

Visual novels are interactive fiction games composed of mostly static graphics typically using anime-style art. As the name suggests, they resemble mixed-media novels, but some distinction is made between proper visual novels which are mostly narration with few interactive elements and adventure games which require problem-solving as part of the gameplay. The market for visual novels outside of East Asia is small and those that are marketed in the West have to contend with the issue of translation. Therefore, the most popular carry-overs are those where the visual content is paramount. The Littlewitch novels are classified as hentai (or H Games for short) which are erotic novels that give the reader/player a sense of being in the intimate inner world of the girls. Unfortunately, some producers have used this form to create explicit animated pornography which has stirred controversy in Japan and tainted the genre.

The four most popular stories from the Littlewitch productions are: Episode of the Clovers (2002), Quartett! (2004), Girlish Grimoire Littlewitch Romanesque (2005) and Rondo Leaflet (2006). The premise of Episode of the Clovers is that a researcher develops a set of combat androids (Ema, Sayu and Toka) who—for the most part—have a relaxing lifestyle until combat robots invade the laboratory and trigger a fierce battle. The term android is a bit misleading here because the girls are actually biological, not mechanical. Interspersed in the adventure are comments about their genetic strengths and defects and their parentage. The idea behind Quartett! is that there is heavy competition between chamber music groups to make it to the finals in a competition reputed to impart fame to the victors. But the players must navigate a series of interpersonal entanglements in order to stay on track. Girlish Grimoire takes place after a destructive magical war where knowledge of magic is practically extinguished. An instructor at a magical academy who has been neglecting his duties is exiled and is told to teach two young girls (Aria and Kaya) the art of magic in order to redeem himself. The story is about the girls’ training and encounter with various interesting characters. Rondo Leaflet is about an unmotivated servant who can’t seem to keep a job. He is given one last chance working at a dilapidated house which he must whip into shape and adventures take place as he does so. I have focused on Ashito’s earlier work because it has a more artistic feel with thicker lines and slightly amorphous forms that leave more to the viewer’s imagination. In time, Ashito progressed to the more conventional thinner lines and sharper forms which give his work a commercial feel. Consistent with this is the increased appearance of girls with bustier figures that conform to mainstream heterosexual male fantasies.

Ashito takes great care with his costumes and does counterpoint his more fantastic designs with more mundane but charming examples.

Oyari Ashito - Heart Warm (2004)

Oyari Ashito – Heart Warm (2004)

Most characters are distinctly Caucasian and wear western clothing like fancy gowns or skirts, lacy underwear, swimsuits etc. Here we see characters in maid costumes.

Oyari Ashito - On an Errand (2005)

Oyari Ashito – On an Errand (2005)

I have noticed that many Japanese artists have assimilated European iconography. Placing wings on a character is distinctly Western symbolizing spiritual flight.

Oyari Ashito - Sepha (2005)

Oyari Ashito – Sepha (2005)

Complete nudity occurs only occasionally in Ashito’s work. Here we see a transition from his earlier style with somewhat sharper lines and forms but still having a slightly impressionistic and dreamy atmosphere.

Oyari Ashito - Pink Pool (2000)

Oyari Ashito – Pink Pool (2003)

Beyond the obvious symbols of servitude which are arguably misogynistic, there is point to be made about the general impression of this piece. Again, we see ears and tails, but the neck shackles are more than just symbols; they also serve as a visual divider. They resemble the chokers women used to wear that added an elegant definition to their appearance. Similar effects are created by tank tops, tight skirts, boots and sometimes hats which create a series of horizontal layers that accentuate a woman’s proportions.

Oyari Ashito - Two Kittens (2003)

Oyari Ashito – Two Kittens (2003)

Ema from Episode of the Clovers is especially popular. The earliest incarnations of this character show a pigeon-toed posture indicative of little girls. Plastic figurines of Ema are also available, but please note that they do not include a tail!

Oyari Ashito - Two Small (2001)

Oyari Ashito – Two Small (2001)

Oyari Ashito - Ema in Black (c2005)

Oyari Ashito – Ema in Black (c2005)

A few readers have expressed surprise that Pigtails in Paint would feature this kind of artwork. This site has gotten a reputation lately for emphasizing high art and the empowerment of girls. These are very important purposes, but I want to remind the readers that our mission is to cover all portrayals of little girls—excepting illegal ones. Even more commercial portrayals tell us something about power in our society and erotica gives us insight into the applicable male or female psyche. People may find specific themes or images distasteful or lowbrow, but it is our intent to challenge and educate our readers.

Neither Pip nor I are familiar with manga artists so this is only one I intend to post.  However, if someone has something worthwhile to share about other artists, they are encouraged to make a proposal.  -Ron

Oyari Ashito official site

Littlewitch official site