Right now, I am taking Art History, and I recently wrote a formal analysis paper on RuPaul, and last night I had some free time so I caught up on some SHINee photos that I had saved. I came across Jonghyun’s gem, and I was flabbergasted at the composition present in his photograph. That is why I decided to write a blog post. This is an informal analysis, written in 30 min., but enjoy!
I want to remind everyone while looking at this photo that it was intended to ‘sell’,and may or may not be portraying Jonghyun as he is, but Jonghyun as he should be. I did not focus on his sexuality in this photo as much, but it is a dominant element of this photograph.
The concept of Lucifer, above all, is a more manly and mature image of SHINee. Yet, this manly image is not established by conventional means, rather a more supernatural theme, as alluded to in the title, Lucifer. These boys are now men, but something more than that, something more mysterious and above the ordinary and mundane.
The photographer chose to light Jonghyun from the left, highlighting his muscular biceps, yet at the same time, emphasizing the sinuous s-curve starting from his chest and winding through his waist and hips. Along with the s-curve, the green haze of light on his biceps only serve to draw your eye downwards towards Jonghyun’s legs. The leather jacket that he wears, dividing into two separated triangles at the bottom, only serves to drive more attention towards Jonghyun’s sexuality as a male, but then, at the same time, his feminized body lines suggest his gentleness and attention to both sides of his sexuality. Jonghyun looks away, and his contrapposto pose is confident, his hands relaxed at his side. He does not directly interact with the audience, though the audience may be looking at him, Jonghyun chooses to look away, giving him an adult aloofness, separate from a smiling teen idol. The lamp hanging above Jonghyun serves to further emphasize the spotlight upon him, and his indifference to it. The photographer has also positioned the audience to be looking at Jonghyun below eye level, adding to a sense of Jonghyun’s maturation into an adult. Moreover, the light obscures Jonghyun’s face rather than revealing him, letting his body speak more for his personality than his emotions, and adding to the feeling of aloofness. Jonghyun’s lines are generally all parallel, running from his head to his body, in a slanting fashion, though this creates a little instability, his straight right leg anchors him, lending a sense of composure, though chaotic and nonsensical paintings hang behind him and contrast his parallel vertical lines with strong horizontals.
The works of art in the background provide a deeper explication of the overall concept. Sketches of a man in glasses and an explosion are situated on the left side of the photo. These two images provide additional contrasts to Jonghyun’s composure and youth. The works of art above Jonghyun, improbable pictures of a flying mermaid above what seems to be the Crescent in England and other fancies, and the green light hovering over his biceps, add to the supernatural concept. The empty frames in the lower right of the picture, just lying around, indicate either the emptiness of such a setting, or opportunity to be created with something new. In this case, the darkness of the surroundings compared to the light being shined on Jonghyun, makes the latter conjecture much more likely. Jonghyun is the anchor amidst all this confusion: the broken glass on the floor, improbable works of art, and the sketched explosion. Jonghyun has overcome, or can overcome, all this confusion, and is the focal point of such a world, despite the supernatural distractions. This ability is not something common to every man.
Ultimately, this picture portrays a strong and mature Jonghyun, further emphasized by surreal aspects in the composition. In this, the photographer has succeeded in drawing out the concept of Lucifer. Yet, the feminization of Jonghyun’s bodily lines presents a slight contradiction to those accustomed to straight-cut depictions of men and women. The androgyny that is so openly emphasized in this photograph represents a shift in societal preferences. Though the leather and the black immediately predispose the audience to think Jonghyun as ‘manly,’ underneath, there is another reality.