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A Documentary about Alberto Mielgo

I’ve often praised Alberto Mielgo‘s background paintings on the Brew. He’s the art director on Disney’s upcoming Tron TV series, which is largely the reason I’m excited about that show. It shouldn’t be surprising that an artist of his caliber wouldn’t restrict his skills to the animation world. This short documentary directed by Alexis Wanneroy (who also happens to be an animator at DreamWorks) takes a look at the creation of one of Mielgo’s recent paintings, in which porn actress Belladonna modeled for him. If you can’t tell by the video thumbnail, it’s probably NSFW, but it’s also a fascinating look at the artistic process of one of the most original artists working in animation today.

  • Bob Harper

    I like how the documentary not only shows us a fantastic artist, but shows the human side of a porn actress who many people either judge, dismiss or simply see as an object. Nice job all around.

  • Billy Batz

    The classic way for artists to get chicks

  • Love his artistic honesty (score Tron!), irritated by his apologetics (just believe it and do it, man!).

    • I expect his apologetic comments are simply in response to leading questions. The problem with documentaries when the interviewer is edited out is that they can present a subject as unfairly self-obsessed or defensive. He’s a pretty damn talented painter, even with his shirt off.

  • Future CEO

    belladonna? oh man. the things she does on camera is…ehh

  • He’s such a good painter… Nice documentary.

  • Toonio

    After jogging around the block came to check the brew before hitting the sack and I was like Hellooooo!!!

    Anyways, its nice to the the brew showing the work of top quality artists like Alberto.

    There is so much depth to his work and an absolute display of freedom and comfort in his drawings. That I’m definitely following him and his work in TronTV.

  • Arthur F.

    Nice to know Disney relaxed their rules.
    As someone who is at points connected and following both art and animation, I’m going to say this mostly seems like a good reminder of the problems with the animators boys club mentality. This belongs to the best of illustration, and there are lots of exquisite, really great examples to find, for example at certain online Auction sites when they have an illustration lot coming up. There are sexy women /sometimes men, serving as theme, as muse, in all scenes, noir to religious and the like, but these always admitted they were illustration. Overexplanation of feelings and urges as if like analysis and motives doesn’t make it art, certainly from 2012. It’s a painting of sexy women, or men with hard-ons it seems, and fine enough. But that whole religious side, well, then I expect a bit of thought. Other centuries did this, theyhad no problem to play with these issues, precisely with religious-themed art. Each era replaces the figures of the scenes from the previous era, like the renaissance classical figures were replaced by very, earthy everyday Dutch-art ones, to show the religious scenes as down to earth parable. They’ve been shown rotund, fleshy, baroque and erotic, as well in ectasy on the crucifix, they’ve been pretty much converted to the tastes of each era — now over centuries, through Koons and Cicciolina. L.A.-based artists (and directors) have done their bit working with pornstars as a statement, like remaking old performance-art with them and so on. This is the new Cali genre of pornstar art, that much is evident. Their brand gets a big of humanity, Mary Magdalene and all, the collector enjoys having their particular star on the wall, and so forth. Just enjoy the stylings of these sexy nudes (had to be a pornstar, sure… ) and guys with hard-ons all you want, but don’t over-embellish art history as if this is rooted in the examination of something deeper. As Freud was purported to have said, “Sometimes a good cigar is just a good cigar.”
    Why can’t animation be happy with its already existing role as art?

  • Nice piece. Great drawings and fine line quality. Odd no mention of Egon Schiele as an inspiration or a historical source. He would love Scheile’s work if he is unaware of it currently.

  • John

    Alberto is a phenomenal talent. Just astoundingly awesome.

    With all due respect, however, please spare me the rationalization of porn. I don’t mean to attack Belladonna as a person, but yes, porn is wrong. What you’re doing in front of the camera is wrong. For Alberto to rationalize it as some sort of equivalence is wrong.

    Porn attacks the very basic nature of who we are. It traumatizes the performer as much as the viewer. Some may laugh and say “hands off my yanky-wanky fun!,” but it is a base degrader that leaves us all poorer for having indulged.

    • Sean

      As someone who’s worked in both the animation and porn industry, I find your views to be incredibly narrow minded.

      Porn is a business like any other. As for traumatizing the performers and viewers, both need to take responsibility for themselves. (Legal) porn goes through all types of contracts and channels to be made- you know what you’re getting into and you have the ability to say “no” to something before you sign the contract. Same goes for the viewer- you can always stop watching or even not watch at all. You chose to indulge in it.

      Belladonna has made a name for herself over the years. She started at the bottom (‘cel washing,’ heh) and worked her way up to the position where she is directing her own movies. They may be too extreme for some sensibilities, but more power to her for getting paid to make what she wants to.

      Industries are full of the good and the bad, putting the best foot forward while hiding away the shady underbelly. How many innocent young animators are getting taken advantage of every day through internships that demean them?

      At the end of the day, we’re all just people trying to express ourselves and earn a living.

      (Also, this documentary and the art within are fantastic)

      • John

        You can find my views “narrow-minded” all you like. It doesn’t change the fact that porn is dangerously toxic and destructive, something to be avoided and called out for what it is.

        Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s “right” or “good.” We could dredge up arguments like the fact that slavery was once legal, or that abortion currently *is* legal. Tobacco is legal, yet there are those who would hunt the industry down and kill it with their bare hands, if they could. Should those who oppose tobacco be accused of being “narrow-minded?”

        Yes, we live in a free society. As we should. We are free to make whatever legal choices we desire, as we should. But I will not be dissuaded from the opinion that making a living by the gross debasement of one’s own very sense of self is a horrible thing to do.

      • “Porn attacks the very basic nature of who we are.”

        Completely untrue. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.

        “It traumatizes the performer as much as the viewer.”

        I’m pretty sure that watching porn produces the opposite effect of being traumatised. I mean the very reason one watches porn is usually to find some sort of entertainment and stimulation, so you are wrong there.

        “It doesn’t change the fact that porn is dangerously toxic and destructive, something to be avoided and called out for what it is.”

        That is in no way a fact, no matter how much you want it to be so. Look I get it, you don’t like it. But the real fact is that availability to porn actually correlates to a decrease in sexual assault and rape. If you don’t believe me, search for the studies yourself.

      • I thought this section was for feedback on the post, not to deride someone for their beliefs or opinions on the post. If someone feels that porn is not a topic they welcome they are not narrow-minded, it is their belief.
        If someone believes the artist is “awesome” or Belladonna is “innocent” that is their to believe. Be it right or wrong in yours. Let the comments stand for themselves and allow each opinion its merit and place in a discussion of the post.

      • If the comment was presented as their beliefs, then it would not be so bad, but if some people want to present their beliefs as facts, then those comments are free to be tested as harshly as any other thing that is being stated as a fact.

        If John had said something like “It traumatizes me.”, then so be it, there is nothing else to say, except that I hope he is ok. But he said “It traumatizes the performer as much as the viewer.” as if he knows for a fact how every person in the world that makes porn and watches porn feels, and that is a downright false statement to make.

        But back on topic, I really did enjoy the documentary. He made an interesting at the very end about how he referred to a particular painting of his and saying that that one will stay with him forever. It’s something that my wife, who is a painter, deals with all the time. So much effort and time goes into painting, sometimes it’s very hard for the artist to give (or sell) it away.

        I guess in animation, especially if the result is a digital format, then the actual original artwork never has to be given away. We still are able to view it in the exact same format as our audience even after we have completed it and released it. I probably will never know how it feels like to give or sell an original single piece of artwork that I have spent so much time on.

    • Rajesh

      I hate when such strong rhetoric is used to describe something that only seems to be so reviled in “prudish” cultures while being vastly ignored in cultures where sex is not such a big deal.

      I have my own objections to porn, but I have objections to marijuana, alcohol, and nicotine as well. Caffeine too. I wouldn’t categorize any of the above as “wrong” or traumatic, including porn.

      Back to the topic at hand, I saw this mini-doc earlier and am always glad to have a second peek into one of my favorite artist’s minds. HBO seems like potentially great buyer for this film.

  • Best thing I’ve seen all week

  • Nicely done video. Great painting. I saw nothing that was NSFW. I do find the comments posted above to be ‘interesting’ when you consider that some of our most celebrated paintings had a similar subject matter.

  • TJR

    Fascinating. I noticed that after it was over that this video was titled “Innocent in a way”. And I think that sums up what the artist did.

    I have never seen Belladonna’s films (and probably never will, I am just too old fashioned), but the artist saw her vulnerable side. He painted the sweetness in her… He saw the innocence in her.

    BTW: I love the music in this film too.

  • John

    I don’t mean to drag this out – really, I don’t. This is a blog (and a damn good one) about animation. Perhaps I shouldn’t have even brought this up, but yes, I do feel strongly about this subject. You can draw your own conclusions as to why.

    Yes, porn is *wrong.* You can rationalize all you want about “it’s legal,” “it’s safe,” “it’s a choice.” You can call me a prude, narrow-minded or repressed. But, to bring it back to animation, there’s a reason we find Peter Griffen’s “strippers are dead inside” bit funny. Because there’s more than a small kernel of truth in it. That kernel of truth extends to the entire adult entertainment industry.

    This is a good summary of why porn is wrong, harmful and toxic:

    Do with it what you will.

    • The Brewmasters

      Any further comments that are not directly related to Alberto Mielgo or the topic of the video will be deleted without comment.

  • OtherDan

    …I think the short is full of contradictions. If you accept what is being framed-it’s thought provoking and inspiring; well done. But, the people depicted are real people, not this fantasy. Alberto is a great artist rationalizing his subject matter in a compelling way. But, I just see a skilled artist being hedonistic with his art-great. The model was intriguing. I wish I didn’t Google her and see what I saw though. She was far more attractive in this short.

  • That guy is just plain legendary. I don’t like the style of the documentary but dig the over all idea. All painters should have a good accent, that’s just the way it was supposed to be. Find me an artist without an accent and I’ll find you an artist who should try harder

    porn is people not getting sex watching people not enjoying sex…. untrue, but I thought that observation was funny so I pass it on to you… yes, YOU, the lovelly internet people

    happy animating, happy fiddling about

  • Professor Widebottom

    What is this sixties sexual revolution hangover I’m having my nose rubbed in? His supposed working under the strain of philistine morality is so overplayed and labored. Please stop. I grew up watching enough Phil Donahue already; I’ve sat through my share of politically correct indoctrination sessions. …His judgment of me judging him, to preempt my judging him when I have no interest in judging him. Zzzzzz. Too bad, because the artist is plenty talented and I, for one, wish that he’d just knock himself out and paint the world’s biggest and most elaborate vagina and roll around in it, or just get it out of his system in any way he pleases because I don’t care. I have no interest in stopping him.

    He should design some erotic bedroom interiors for Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. That would be fantastic!