Chapter 206 – Over Thirty Million
Zhuge Yu had a simple idea. Chen Li hadn’t planned to organize an art exhibition yet, right? Without the exhibition, Chen Li’s reputation couldn’t expand effectively.
Of course, Zhuge Yu would respect Chen Li’s wishes and wouldn’t organize an exhibition for him at this stage. However, he could casually display a few of Chen Li’s paintings at the Free Spirit art supply store.
Most of the visitors to Free Spirit were either art enthusiasts or collectors. Putting Chen Li’s paintings in Free Spirit could be considered a small exhibition for him. Chen Li’s presence in one of the paintings at Free Spirit had already begun to have an effect. Wu Zailin then released news that the creator of this painting would have more works exhibited at Free Spirit. This would attract those interested in Chen Li’s painting to come and view it. Word would spread, and Chen Li’s reputation would naturally grow.
Zhuge Yu’s mind was active, and he quickly thought of the best approach at this stage, immediately discussing it with Wu Zailin.
As the manager of Free Spirit, Wu Zailin was much more proficient in management than Zhuge Yu, and he immediately proposed an alternative method, saying, “Teacher, how about this? Chen Li’s works will undoubtedly generate a significant response. In that case, let’s exhibit one painting per quarter. This way, the painting to be exhibited in the next quarter will be a highlight, attracting more professionals to come.”
This was a form of hunger marketing—starting with an excellent piece to whet people’s appetites, then gradually releasing other works. This way, there would be anticipation every quarter, and Chen Li’s reputation would slowly rise.
Of course, they weren’t doing this to make money. After all, the paintings exhibited at Free Spirit were not for sale. They would display Chen Li’s paintings to enhance his reputation within the art community. Zhuge Yu thought Wu Zailin’s method was more feasible and nodded, saying, “Okay, let’s do it as you’ve suggested.”
They then discussed the plans in detail. Finally, considering Wu Zailin had just returned from abroad and was probably exhausted from the trip to the capital, Zhuge Yu sent him to his resting room to relax.
It was only when Chen Li finished class and was directly called to the art studio by Zhuge Yu that he knew what was going on.
Zhuge Yu said to Chen Li, “Xiao Li, a friend of your Senior Brother Wu asked him to buy a painting from you. Are you willing to sell?”
Zhuge Yu didn’t mention the identity of the person interested in buying the painting, only that it was a friend of Wu Zailin’s. This was partly because of Old Master Qu’s special status and also because Chen Li wouldn’t care who was buying his painting.
“Yeah, Junior Brother, a very important friend of mine has been wanting to collect your paintings ever since seeing your ‘Light.’ Are you willing to sell?” Wu Zailin added from the side.
Chen Li didn’t have a strong concept of whether to sell the painting or not. He glanced at Zhuge Yu, wanting to hear his advice, and Zhuge Yu nodded at him.
Only then did Chen Li say, “Sure.”
In this art studio, there were several paintings Chen Li had done recently, each one outstanding. They were so excellent that Wu Zailin felt the urge to take all of them home. So, now that Chen Li had agreed, Wu Zailin didn’t bother choosing and casually selected one.
“Junior Brother Chen Li, is this painting okay?” Wu Zailin asked.
Chen Li nodded, “Sure.”
These paintings were all painted by Chen Li in his spare time. He had never thought these paintings could be sold.
Wu Zailin gently took down the painting he had just pointed at, treating it as if it were a rare treasure.
“Junior Brother Chen Li, thank you this time. You really helped me a lot,” gratefully said Wu Zailin.
Chen Li looked embarrassed, “No need to thank me.” In reality, Chen Li couldn’t understand how he had helped his senior brother by selling a painting.
“Teacher, how much do you think this painting is worth?” Wu Zailin knew Chen Li probably wasn’t interested in money, so he turned to Zhuge Yu.
“You can set the price.”
Giving something to Old Master Qu, he didn’t dare to set a price recklessly and, of course, couldn’t just give it to Old Master Qu.
Old Master Qu had a stubborn temper. Even if the Wu family didn’t have intentions of flattering him, he wouldn’t accept this painting for free.
“Alright then,” Wu Zailin didn’t decline either. After putting away the painting, he intended to leave because after all, Old Master Qu was still waiting.
Since Wu Zailin was in a hurry, Zhuge Yu didn’t insist on him staying for a meal and let him go directly. As for the exhibition of Chen Li’s paintings in Free Spirit he would personally go to Shanghai in a few days and use his connections to promote Chen Li.
However, before that, Zhuge Yu felt he needed to obtain Chen Li’s consent. Even though the initial motive was because of Chen Li, Chen Li was the owner of these paintings and had the right to decide how to handle them.
“Xiao Li, I’m planning to exhibit your paintings in Free Spirit. Are you willing?” Zhuge Yu asked.
Without hesitation, Chen Li nodded. He knew that Free Spirit had exhibited the works of many renowned artists. The fact that his teacher was willing to display his paintings was a recognition of him.
However, Zhuge Yu didn’t make a decision just because Chen Li nodded. He knew Chen Li didn’t understand the true significance of exhibiting his paintings. He felt like he would be deceiving Chen Li if he exhibited his paintings solely based on Chen Li’s agreement.
“Xiao Li, don’t rush to agree. Go back and ask Wei Chen to see what he thinks,” Zhuge Yu said. He couldn’t articulate his true intentions to exhibit Chen Li’s paintings just because Chen Li had nodded, but he believed that Wei Chen’s insight would help him understand the purpose behind his actions. So, he irresponsibly passed on the task of explaining to Wei Chen.
Chen Li was puzzled but still nodded, “Alright, I’ll talk to Achen about it.”
Afterwards, Chen Li bid farewell to Zhuge Yu and went home. When he arrived home, Wei Chen had not finished work yet. Chen Li didn’t enter the studio but turned on the TV in the living room. Familiar with the routine, he switched to the children’s channel and started watching the animated series he liked.
Wei Chen returned when Chen Li had watched half of an episode. He heard the sound in the foyer, changed his shoes, and as he entered the living room, he met Chen Li’s gaze.
“Achen, you’re back,” Chen Li said, then looked at Wei Chen, his big eyes shining, not sure what he was anticipating.
Wei Chen walked to Chen Li’s side, bent down, and gently kissed Chen Li’s slightly pouted lips. They exchanged a passionate welcome-home kiss. Only after that did Chen Li continue to focus on the TV, enjoying the animated series.
As for the habit of coming home, Chen Li had developed it slowly from the first day he returned from school by himself. Now, whenever Wei Chen came home, they had to exchange this kiss, or both felt something was missing.
After the welcome-home kiss, Wei Chen rolled up his sleeves and went to the kitchen to prepare soup for Chen Li, embracing the simple life they lived day by day, finding satisfaction in it.
After dinner, Chen Li shared the conversation he had with Zhuge Yu and himself today with Wei Chen.
As Zhuge Yu suspected, Wei Chen quickly understood Zhuge Yu’s intentions. Wei Chen didn’t make the decision for Chen Li but clearly explained Zhuge Yu’s purpose to Chen Li.
Chen Li listened, still somewhat puzzled. In fact, he had no concept of these things. He looked at Wei Chen, hoping Wei Chen would make the decision for him.
Wei Chen reached out and ruffled Chen Li’s hair, still not making the decision for Chen Li, only asking, “Li Li, do you want more people to know about your art?”
Hearing this, Chen Li tilted his head and thought for a while before nodding, “Yes.”
Making more people aware of his art meant that his value would increase in the future. Would this allow him to contribute more to Achen? If he stood higher in the future, would there be less resistance when he was with Achen? After all, his Achen was so outstanding, so he should strive to be outstanding too.
Wei Chen more or less understood some of Chen Li’s thoughts. It would be false to say he wasn’t touched. In this relationship, not only was he putting in effort, his Li Li was also striving in his own way.
His Li Li, how could he not love him?
Wei Chen couldn’t help but tightly embrace Chen Li. At this moment, his heart felt incredibly soft and sweet.
Old Master Qu genuinely wanted to collect Chen Li’s art, so as soon as Wu Zailin’s plane landed, Old Master Qu already knew and even personally went to the Wu family’s home, waiting for Wu Zailin to bring back Chen Li’s artwork.
Wu Zailin received a call from home as soon as he got off the plane, surprised and honored. At the same time, he didn’t dare to delay and hurried home. Old Master Qu was already advanced in age; he couldn’t let the old man wait too long.
On the way back home, Wu Zailin finally arrived at their house after forty-something minutes of hurrying and taking it slow. When Old Master Qu saw him return, he didn’t maintain any imposing demeanor. He walked directly up to Wu Zailin and asked somewhat urgently, “Did you bring the painting back?”
Old Master Qu had already stepped down from his position and now had nothing to do other than indulging in his only hobby of collecting calligraphy and paintings. The moment he laid eyes on Chen Li’s “Light,” he felt that the artist’s work greatly appealed to him. Later, when he failed to acquire another painting by Chen Li at an auction, he felt a tinge of regret. He even inquired for a long time but couldn’t find any other works by Chen Li on the market, which deepened his sense of regret.
This time, finally being able to obtain a piece by this artist, Old Master Qu was naturally eager.
“Grandpa Qu, I’ve brought the painting back for you,” Wu Zailin said, carefully taking out the painting he had brought back from the capital. Due to the urgency of the journey, the painting had not been framed yet. However, Wu Zailin had been protecting it the whole way, ensuring not even a corner was folded.
As soon as this painting was presented, Old Master Qu’s gaze was captivated by it and couldn’t be moved away. All of his attention was instantly focused on this painting.
Compared to “Light” and the painting hanging in Wu Zhang’s study now, Old Master Qu felt he liked this painting more. It gave him a lot more hope than the previous two paintings did.
If “Light” was what the creator saw as hope, then with this painting, the creator was already immersed in hope. In such a state of mind, the progress of the creator’s technique seemed less important.
Wu Zhang’s gaze was also drawn to this painting. Like Old Master Qu, he couldn’t shift his gaze away.
From this painting, he saw the progress of the creator and the change in the creator’s state of mind, and this was precisely what startled Wu Zhang.
He thought “Light” was the pinnacle of this artist’s career. However, seeing this piece today, Wu Zhang realized that this creator still had endless potential in the future. “Light” might just be the beginning for this creator.
If it weren’t for Old Master Qu waiting for this painting for a long time, Wu Zhang would have wanted to claim ownership of this painting. Such a painting was truly valuable for collecting.
Old Master Qu was very fond of this painting and was afraid it might get damaged on the way back. He planned to have the driver take him to get the painting framed.
However, given Old Master Qu’s status, the driver naturally didn’t dare to take him at this time. It was already past nine in the evening, and whether any art supply store was open was uncertain. The driver couldn’t guarantee safety at this point.
The driver looked to Wu Zhang for help, hoping Wu Zhang could persuade Old Master Qu.
“Uncle Qu, how about you stay at my place for the night? Tomorrow, I’ll take you to Zailin’s shop, and he can personally frame the painting for you,” Wu Zhang said, knowing that it was impossible for Old Master Qu to go out at this hour. So, he made this suggestion.
Old Master Qu agreed with a nod. “That’s fine.” He also knew that his current status wasn’t suitable for going out at this time. Moreover, he trusted Wu Zailin’s framing skills, which were not inferior to some seasoned craftsmen.
And so, Old Master Qu ended up collecting Chen Li’s painting. No one discussed the price. The next day, over thirty million yuan was transferred into Wu Zailin’s account. Wu Zailin knew this was the payment Old Master Qu made for Chen Li’s painting.
Wu Zailin didn’t think the price was too high or too low. After all, the value of Chen Li’s paintings couldn’t be measured in terms of money. This price was just a way for Old Master Qu to express his gratitude to the creator after collecting this painting. If one had to talk about the price, the price Old Master Qu offered was fair.