Chapter 205 – Old Master Qu
“An art exhibition?” Chen Li hadn’t thought about organizing an exhibition, so when Zhuge Yu mentioned it, Chen Li was a bit puzzled.
“Yeah, with your abilities, you are capable of organizing an exhibition. If you want to, I can help you prepare,” Zhuge Yu said. In fact, based on Chen Li’s abilities, he could have organized a personal exhibition a long time ago. However, at that time, Zhuge Yu felt that Chen Li’s condition was not suitable for an exhibition.
But now, Chen Li’s condition had improved significantly. It was time to increase Chen Li’s visibility, so organizing an exhibition was the best choice.
However, Chen Li shook his head and said, “I haven’t planned for that yet.”
Indeed, he hadn’t planned on organizing an exhibition. He didn’t want to step into the spotlight just yet.
Zhuge Yu naturally respected Chen Li’s opinion and said, “Since you haven’t made up your mind, let’s leave it at that.” He wouldn’t force Chen Li to do something he didn’t want to do.
“Okay,” Chen Li nodded.
“When you decide to have an exhibition, just let me know. I’ll help you organize it whenever you’re ready,” Zhuge Yu made a promise.
“Thank you, teacher.”
“What are you thanking me for, silly child,” Zhuge Yu looked at Chen Li with affection.
On Zhuge Yu’s side, he was thinking of ways to boost Chen Li’s visibility in the art community, unaware that Chen Li’s visibility was gradually growing in a subtle and steady manner within the community. It wasn’t fast, but it was progressing step by step without any deliberate push, growing steadily.
By the time Zhuge Yu realized it, Chen Li’s name was already shining brightly in the art community, without the need for an exhibition to raise his visibility.
The secretary of the Municipal Party Committee in Shanghai was known to be an art collector, and many people in Shanghai knew of his passion for art.
Everything had its own circle, and art collectors had their own circles as well, and Secretary Wu Zhang was a part of that. The incident occurred a month or two after Wu Zhang’s birthday banquet.
Wu Zhang loved collecting art, so naturally, he had many art enthusiast friends. When they heard that Wu Zhang had acquired an outstanding painting this time, they found time to visit him, eager to see the brilliance of that painting.
None of these people had anticipated that after seeing the painting, they would be deeply moved by the artwork Wu Zhang had in his collection. Even the most discerning elder among them couldn’t bear to leave the painting.
Only after they found out that the author of this remarkable painting was the same artist behind the painting “Light,” stored in the National Art Museum, did they realize the true value of the piece.
Only the author of “Light” could bring them such great awe with a paintbrush. When “Light” was exhibited, these people would visit the exhibition hall every day to admire it.
During the auction, they also attended, hoping to acquire “Light.” Unfortunately, “Light” was not included in the auction, and they couldn’t acquire another piece by the same artist.
They hadn’t expected to find this artwork here, confirming their suspicions that it was indeed the same artist. The painting continued to be just as awe-inspiring.
Soon, they spotted a signature on this painting.
“[Li] Is this the name of the creator of this painting?” an elderly man asked Wu Zhang upon noticing the signature.
The elderly man surnamed Qu was a respected figure in Shanghai and had retired from ZY. His lifelong passion was calligraphy and painting. He instantly fell in love with this painting.
Wu Zhang was more than willing to support Chen Li. “Yes, the creator of this painting is Chen Li, a disciple of Mr. Zhuge Yu.”
“A disciple of Zhuge Yu?” Old Master Qu inquired. “Why haven’t I heard that Zhuge Yu has a disciple named Chen Li?” Old Master Qu closely followed the art scene, knew Zhuge Yu, knew about his disciples, and even had Zhuge Yu’s and his disciples’ artworks in his collection, but he had never heard of Zhuge Yu having a disciple named Chen Li.
“This disciple was accepted by Mr. Zhuge Yu at the end of last year. It’s understandable that Old Master Qu hasn’t heard about him,” Wu Zhang explained.
“In that case, Zhuge Yu has indeed found a gem,” Old Master Qu commented, still fixated on Chen Li’s painting, a significant affirmation of Chen Li.
“Yes,” Wu Zhang agreed.
What else could this be if not a gem?
“Xiao Wu, your son is also a disciple of Zhuge Yu, right?” Old Master Qu suddenly asked.
Wu Zhang nodded. He already had an idea of what Old Master Qu wanted to say.
“Would you ask Zailin to check with his teacher if it’s possible for me to obtain a painting by Mr. Chen Li? I’m willing to pay any amount,” Old Master Qu said. He truly adored this painting and the “Light” from the National Art Museum. Since both were painted by the same artist, the other works by this artist must be equally outstanding.
“Zailin is currently abroad, exploring painting pigments,” Wu Zhang said, realizing it was just as he suspected. He hurriedly added, “Once he returns to the country, I’ll ask him to inquire on your behalf, Old Master Qu.”
Old Master Qu nodded. “No rush, no rush. If all the works are of the same caliber as the one in front of me, then it’s worth the wait.”
“I will make sure Old Master Qu doesn’t have to wait too long,” Wu Zhang assured.
Old Master Qu had served in the position of the highest leader for eight years before stepping down. He was a good friend and in-law to Mr. Sheng. Although no one in the family continued in politics, his students were spread throughout the entire country.
So, even the upright Wu Zhang had to bow his head when facing Old Master Qu.
Although Old Master Qu had stepped down, his influence in the country was not to be underestimated, even by the old revolutionaries still in the capital.
He was from Shanghai and retired there after stepping down. His son and grandson did not enter the military or political systems but pursued their own paths, achieving success in their respective careers.
However, very few people knew that Old Master Qu had retired to Shanghai. Otherwise, the forces in Shanghai would go crazy again because of Old Master Qu. Wu Zhang respectfully saw Old Master Qu off, still keeping in mind Old Master Qu’s desire for Chen Li’s painting. He thought that when his son returned from overseas, he would definitely have him buy a painting by Chen Li.
When Old Master Qu personally requested something, Wu Zhang would deliver it even if he had to go bald.
Of course, Wu Zhang wouldn’t foolishly offer the painting from his own collection. After all, that painting was a gift from Mr. Sheng for his birthday banquet. If he gave it away, he would offend Mr. Sheng.
Moreover, knowing Old Master Qu’s personality, he wouldn’t accept it. Regardless of whether it was willingly offered by Wu Zhang or not, once it was given away, the blame for pleasing Old Master Qu would fall on Wu Zhang. Though no one dared to say it in front of Old Master Qu, Wu Zhang couldn’t afford to take that risk.
In Wu Zhang’s hopes, the time approached April, when his son, Wu Zailin, would return from abroad.
When Wu Zailin got off the plane, before he could sit down on the stool at home to warm his buttocks, he was immediately driven out of the house in a hurry by Wu Zhang, who told him to go to Beijing and find his teacher, Zhuge Yu.
Just a second before, Wu Zailin was very puzzled about why his father was in such a rush. But after hearing the reason, he immediately rushed to the capital.
After landing in the capital, Wu Zailin called Zhuge Yu directly.
At that moment, Zhuge Yu was at the school. Chen Li had just declined his proposal to organize an art exhibition. When Wu Zailin’s call came in, Zhuge Yu answered the phone.
“Teacher, I’m in Beijing now. Where are you? Can I come to see you?” Wu Zailin’s voice sounded urgent.
“I’m at the school. Come over,” Zhuge Yu replied after checking the time, realizing he had no commitments for the day and would be at the school.
“Alright, I’ll come right away. I have something to discuss with you, and it would be great if Chen Li, my junior brother, is also present,” Wu Zailin said and hailed a taxi, mentioning Q University’s name. He sat in the taxi and rushed to Q University.
By the time Wu Zailin arrived at Q University, an hour had passed.
Chen Li went for his noon classes, and Zhuge Yu was waiting for him in the studio.
Zhuge Yu saw Wu Zailin, slightly out of breath, standing in front of him, and couldn’t help but be curious. “Didn’t you just return to the country today? Why did you rush to the capital again?”
“It’s urgent, very urgent. I need to talk to you about something extremely urgent,” Wu Zailin said, catching his breath. “I didn’t even have a chance to drink water after getting off the plane. I hurriedly rushed over. By the way, Teacher, where’s Junior Brother Chen Li?”
“He’s in class. Tell me your urgent matter first,” Zhuge Yu let Wu Zailin find a seat and went to pour him a glass of water.
“Teacher, Grandpa Qu wants a painting by Junior Brother Chen Li,” Wu Zailin said, taking a breath and then explaining.
“You mean Old Master Qu?” Zhuge Yu asked, though he knew he was asking in vain. There was only one Old Master Qu that Wu Zailin would consider so important.
“Yes,” Wu Zailin nodded.
Zhuge Yu was a bit puzzled. “Why would Old Master Qu want to collect a painting by Chen Li? I remember ‘Light’ wasn’t signed.”
Wu Zailin explained the whole story to Zhuge Yu, marveling at how small the world was with all these coincidences.
“So, let me get this straight. Your father has the painting that Xiao Li auctioned, and Old Master Qu, having seen that painting, realized ‘Light’ was also painted by Chen Li. Is that why he wants to collect a painting by Chen Li?” Zhuge Yu clarified.
“Yes, that’s correct,” Wu Zailin nodded.
“I’ll talk to Xiao Li after his class and see if he’s willing to sell his painting. Since Old Master Qu has waited for a month or two, waiting one more day won’t make a difference. As for you, find a place to rest now. Running around like this, do you still want your body?” Zhuge Yu might seem indifferent at times, but when it came to his students, he genuinely cared.
“Alright,” Wu Zailin agreed and found a corner to rest, closing his eyes to relax.
As soon as Wu Zailin closed his eyes, he seemed to remember something and opened them again, saying to Zhuge Yu, “Teacher, I forgot to tell you, I hung a painting by Junior Brother Chen Li at Free Spirit. Many people have seen this painting, and they keep pestering me to sell it.”
Upon hearing this, Zhuge Yu’s thoughts took a different turn.