A Painter Behind the Curtain | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐
"Ian is a painter with a natural-born talent, but his love for painting is soon lost after being forced to work for the cruel and greedy Bardi family. No one knows that he's the genius behind the beautiful works of art that the famous family claims as their own. That is until one day, when the wealthy merchant Raymond comes for a portrait and his interest in Ian is piqued… Can Raymond help him to see the beauty in the world again? Or will Ian's true talent forever remain unseen? "
A Painter Behind the Curtain is a BL manhwa by Munamu.
I honestly don't know how to feel about this manhwa, but I do know that I clearly did not enjoy this as much as others seemed to. There is one reason for that - Ian and Raymond. Those two made me question whether or not this was worth the read because of how frustrating they were.
I don't have anything to say about the writing, since it never seems to be an issue, but I do have a few comments about the art. First of all, this is in black and white which I honestly wasn't expecting. Manhwa is usually full-colour, so I was expecting that for this as well. As for the style, it is also a bit different than I am used to, but I find that it did fit the setting.
Due to the nature of the story as well, there are sex scenes depicted in this. They are censored but are still there if it is something that bothers you.
Aside from my main issue with the story, the characters, which I will get more into later, the plot honestly wasn't bad. It details the lives of Ian and Raymond after their path intersects and they learn to cope with their traumas as they grow closer to each other. It was an interesting depiction of the high class through the medium of the arts and touches upon topics such as homosexuality in history. It is also a revenge story as well.
Again though, this ultimately follows the love story of Ian and Raymond which, unfortunately, wasn't the best aspect of this story. I will get more into that in the characters section, but I spent the entirety of this book going from internally sighing to screaming in frustration. I also spent the entirety of this wishing for Ian to come to his senses and leave Ray which...was an issue. Also, because this is partially a revenge story, I thought it would be interesting if it leaned more into that and ended differently.
It also took literally the entire story for any positive development... If you start to read this and are also frustrated by their dynamic, you either have to prepare yourself and soldier through it, or give up because that is pretty much all you are going to get.
Starting with Raymond, he was a bit of a walking red flag. While he didn't do anything non-consensually (thankfully), his motivations and actions all were for a hidden agenda, and he was not opposed to manipulation in order to get what he wanted. As you can guess, this meant that he was not the kind of person you get with in order to have a healthy relationship.
Ian, unfortunately, was also not the greatest ever. It was a bit frustrating because of the position he was in, and his lack of realization that he essentially went from one cage to another. He was so conditioned by his time with the Bardi family that he didn't think he deserved to have a completely happy life and therefore didn't realize that his coupling with Ray was detrimental to his mental, and sometimes physical, health.
Unlike Ray who wasn't the greatest person from the beginning, Ian ended up taking a bit of a turning point for me that ended up ruining his character a bit. I won't say what it was, but it was something I wasn't expecting his character to do, nor did I like it.
A lot of people in the comment section of the manhwa said that this was an all-time favourite, and I personally just don't get it. Sure, it is no different from the vast majority of BL manhwa's in that most have toxic relationships, but I don't think that this had anything particularly great that was able to overtake that.
Again though, the plot wasn't bad considering that I did end up reading all of it. That could be though that I was 20 chapters deep and had to see it through...
If you are thinking of reading this, just know that it does have trigger warnings, such as dubious consent and abuse.
You can read this on Tappytoon, but keep in mind that only the first four episodes are free to read.