Pixel art has a lot going for it, and it's not really "artsy fartsy."
"Artsy fartsy" is when too much emphasis is placed on the styling rather than substance. See "Oni and the Blind Forest" as a recent example: HD graphics, very pretty, story is pretentious as fuck. The pretty graphics are really the only thing that game has going for it.
That doesn't mean HD graphics are artsy either, I'm just saying that art style is not the only measure of pretentiousness.
On the other hand, pixel art games have a more minimalist feel to them and so often (not always) rely more on content and gameplay. You're not constantly distracted by fancy lighting, particle effects and polygon count, and you become absorbed by what's actually happening. Action takes priority over presentation. I'm playing a game for the action - if I want fancy visuals I'll watch a movie instead. I don't think it's a coincidence that many AAA titles seem to be more cutscene than gameplay, with pretty minimal player involvement, because they're basically movies that require the audience to press some buttons every now and again to make sure they're still awake - don't you dare get up for a snack during my long unskippable cutscene! (How pretentious is that?)
I also like pixel art because it leaves something to the imagination. Well done sprites may have low "resolution" but still have exquisite detail.
Lastly, I feel pixel art has a more "hand made" feel to it. Someone has to sit down and fiddle with each individual pixel to craft those sprites. There's no photoshop tool that will do an adequate job. You can't use blur or smudge or the heal tool to cover your mistakes and you often have a very small area in which to make something easily recognizable because you can't scale the sprites arbitrarily. It takes skill and time, and good pixel art is a sign that someone put a lot of effort into the project and actually gave a shit.