Chapter 55.2 – The Unfinished Painting
Seeing the master engrossed in his painting, Zhuge Yu swallowed the words that were about to come out of his mouth. He silently walked to the side of the old man, craning his neck and staring at the world depicted in the painting.
Distant mountains, calm waters, and a returning boat.
It was a refreshing and elegant ink painting. With just a few strokes, it immersed people in a hazy and beautiful world.
Zhuge Yu had thought more than once that this old man in front of him was not human but a transcendent being from another realm. Otherwise, in today’s impatient society, how could this person live such a leisurely life in this deep mountain forest?
The old man put the final ink dot on the painting before putting down his brush. He looked faintly at Zhuge Yu. The light blue robe made the old man look like someone who had descended from the immortal realm, exuding an ethereal and dignified aura.
“What good thing do you have to share with me again?” the old man asked.
Zhuge Yu shifted his gaze from the old man’s painting and mysteriously said, “I came here today to show you a painting that I guarantee you will like more than I do.”
The old man raised an eyebrow, looking expectant.
Smiling, Zhuge Yu opened the scroll in his hand and said, “This was painted by a young person in a shop in Shanghai. I thought it would suit your taste, so I brought it for you to see.”
Upon hearing Zhuge Yu’s words, the old man became curious and his gaze fell upon the slowly unfolding scroll. When the scroll was fully open, the old man’s dull expression vanished and was replaced with an astonishing brilliance.
Zhuge Yu had been paying close attention to the old man’s expression and naturally noticed the change. He knew that the old man, like himself, was captivated by the painting. With a hint of pride, Zhuge Yu said, “Well, what do you think? I have good taste, don’t I?”
The old man no longer paid attention to Zhuge Yu, fully engrossed in the painting before him. The painting contained a world—a complete world that made him feel darkness and oppression, a world filled with danger. Instead of snowflakes, there were feathers of knives flying through the air, inflicting harm whenever they landed on trees.
As one looked at the painting and immersed themselves in its world, their heart would contract, as if being tightly grasped, causing a sharp and uncomfortable pain.
With just a few simple strokes, it depicted a world filled with pain.
“This is an unfinished painting,” the old man carefully observed the world within the painting and spoke when he saw a corner of it.
“What do you mean?” Zhuge Yu, who hadn’t noticed it before, became curious when the old man mentioned it.
The old man’s withered finger pointed towards a corner of the painting. “Do you see this precipice?”
Zhuge Yu followed the direction of the old man’s finger and finally noticed a hint of red at the edge of the precipice, appearing somewhat abrupt. Recalling the scene from that day, Zhuge Yu speculated, “When the young person was painting this, they were interrupted. Could it be that the red pigment accidentally stained it?”
“It’s not possible.” The old man firmly denied Zhuge Yu’s speculation. “If I’m not mistaken, that young person intended to paint a lone plum blossom standing proudly on the cliff. After the plum blossom, there should be something else that hasn’t been painted yet. Perhaps, that unfinished part can break the oppression and dullness of this world.”
Zhuge Yu opened his mouth to refute, but in the next moment, the figures of Chen Li and Wei Chen involuntarily flashed in his mind—Chen Li, who was deeply immersed in his own world, and Wei Chen, the only one who had managed to open the door to Chen Li’s heart.
Perhaps the old man’s analysis had some merit.
Ignoring Zhuge Yu’s thoughts, the old man’s thoughts once again focused on the painting before him. The person who painted this possessed a delicate inner world and extraordinary composition skills. Being skilled in painting is not the true measure of talent; it is the ability to paint a world that encompasses all human emotions and desires.
“It’s a pity…”
The old man took his gaze away from the painting and let out a long sigh.
“What’s a pity?” Zhuge Yu was puzzled. In his opinion, even though the painting was unfinished, it was already quite perfect. What could be a pity about it? Of course, Zhuge Yu believed in the old man’s judgment. Although they were both artists, they specialized in different directions. The old man would surely be able to see things that he couldn’t.
“It’s a pity that the person who painted this picture lacks mature skills and has a somewhat wild style,” the old man said, expressing his regret in his eyes. If this person were his student, he would definitely guide them to become even more perfect!
“I knew you would appreciate this painting, or rather, appreciate the person who painted it,” Zhuge Yu smiled, showing a sense of ‘everything is in control’. “I came to you today because of this person.”
“If you’re here to ask me to be their mentor, forget about it. I’m already old and can’t teach anymore,” the old man said, walking over to a bamboo chair and sitting down. He poured himself a cup of clear tea, blew away the steam from the cup, took a light sip, and tasted a hint of bitterness that gradually turned into sweetness, savoring it.
“You sure think highly of yourself. When did I say that the young man wanted to be your student?” Zhuge Yu said as he found a seat for himself and poured a cup of tea. He imitated the old man’s manner and tasted it. However, he felt unsatisfied and tilted his head back, finishing the entire cup in one gulp.
“It was I who intended to take him as my disciple, to show you his works and to let you know that I have found a talented individual, not only in oil painting but also in traditional Chinese painting,” Zhuge Yu said, then smirked mischievously. “Oh, I forgot to tell you, this seems to be his first attempt at Chinese painting.”