Chapter 235 – Don’t Envy or be Jealous

They initially thought it was that person named Chen Li who was maliciously promoting it, but now it seems that it’s not just hype, it’s the truth!

How old is this young man? He looks like he’s only seventeen or eighteen, yet he was accepted as a disciple by two domestic painting and calligraphy masters. With such a background, how many people in the current world of calligraphy and painting can achieve that?

If “Light” is really painted by this young man, and even if his skill level remains stable at the level shown in “Light” or slightly lower, then Chen Li’s paintings being priced sky-high is not impossible.

With such a teacher, Chen Li’s future is boundless. Even if they use excessive money to flatter Chen Li who has boundless future, there’s nothing wrong with it.

These people suddenly realized why some collectors are willing to spend big amount on Chen Li’s paintings. They not only give face to Zhuge Yu and Sun Ruocheng but also elevate Chen Li. In the future, if Chen Li becomes famous, it will bring some convenience to those who buy his paintings now.

Fundamentally, these people don’t really recognize Chen Li’s painting skills but rather his existing background.

Zhuge Yu and Master Sun both knew it would be this way, so they will give a direct answer at this exchange, telling them Chen Li’s true level!

Zhou Zhuoran has always been outstanding among his peers. While his classmates were diligently preparing for the college entrance exam, he had already been noticed by ZY Academy of Fine Arts and was admitted to ZY Academy as a student through special channels.

After a year of study at the Academy, he was noticed by a professor and was directly accepted as a disciple. He is the youngest disciple under that professor, and Zhou Zhuoran can feel the professor’s high regard for him.

Otherwise, the teacher would not have brought him to participate in this very important exchange event in the Chinese calligraphy and painting world. Even though he is a volunteer at the exchange, Zhou Zhuoran is already content.

Most of the volunteers at the exchange event are students of the masters. Since guests are not allowed to bring companions, an unwritten rule has formed among the various masters.

The exchange event must have staff, so why not have the disciples of each master come and serve as volunteers? In essence, it’s a disguised way of bringing companions along and allowing their disciples to broaden their horizons and be seen by the various Chinese masters.

So, those who were brought in are all the favorite disciples of various masters, as there is only one slot.

When Zhou Zhuoran learned that he could participate in this exchange event as a volunteer, he was so excited that he couldn’t sleep well for several days and nights. In the end, he came with boundless energy.

In fact, the venue had been set up the day before, and these volunteers didn’t have much to do. They just followed their teachers and got to know some masters.

Zhou Zhuoran valued this opportunity greatly and had prepared for it with great care. He and the professor arrived early. When they saw Zhuge Yu enter, Zhou Zhuoran noticed Chen Li.

Although Chen Li had changed significantly compared to last year when he was carefree, Zhou Zhuoran recognized him at a glance. After all, it was because of Chen Li that his good friend had a rib broken by Wei Chen, so he had a deep impression of Chen Li.

In Zhou Zhuoran’s memory, Chen Li was a self-taught artist with good painting skills, but he thought Chen Li wouldn’t qualify for an event like this. However, when he saw Zhuge Yu standing next to Chen Li, Zhou Zhuoran realized that Chen Li might be here as a volunteer, just like himself.

However, Zhou Zhuoran couldn’t help but feel a bit uneasy. He had always considered himself the most outstanding among his peers, and suddenly seeing someone of his generation in a similar position made him feel a sense of competition. Still, he didn’t have any jealousy or mockery in his attitude. He simply thought that Chen Li was luckier to have caught the attention of Master Zhuge Yu.

However, the events that followed completely shattered Zhou Zhuoran’s sense of superiority. If he were to say who he admired the most, it would undoubtedly be Master Sun, Sun Ruocheng. Zhou Zhuoran was a student of traditional Chinese painting, and he had often fantasized about meeting Sun Ruocheng and even becoming his disciple.

Of course, Zhou Zhuoran understood that these were just daydreams. After all, Master Sun had already semi-retired, and he probably had no intention of taking on new apprentices.

Seeing Master Sun at this exchange event was already a pleasant surprise for Zhou Zhuoran. He couldn’t control his excitement and his eyes were filled with admiration when he gazed at Master Sun. Even if Master Sun didn’t notice him, just a brief look from a distance was enough to make him feel content.

However, everything that happened next completely shattered Zhou Zhuoran’s understanding. He saw Master Sun, whom he deeply admired, walk up to Chen Li and affectionately ruffle Chen Li’s hair. Then, he heard Chen Li address Master Sun as “teacher.”

For a moment, Zhou Zhuoran was dumbfounded, just like everyone else at the scene, finding it hard to believe what their eyes were witnessing. Later, amid the murmurs of others at the event, he heard that the artist he thought was just a talented artist with autism, Chen Li, was actually the creator of the world-famous artwork “Light.” They said Chen Li had Zhuge Yu and Master Sun as his teachers, and his future was limitless.

At that moment, all of Zhou Zhuoran’s feelings of superiority were instantly crushed and disappeared, and his lingering sense of dissatisfaction was completely extinguished.

Compared to Chen Li, who once created the sensational “Light,” Zhou Zhuoran realized he hadn’t achieved anything yet. He was still a student who hadn’t graduated. How could he feel superior? How could he look down on Chen Li?

In an instant, Zhou Zhuoran found himself quite ridiculous because he suddenly realized that he had no grounds for pride.

Zhou Zhuoran’s professor clearly noticed the change in Zhou Zhuoran’s emotions. He glanced at Zhou Zhuoran and said with a smile, “Now you understand what it means to see mountains beyond mountains?”

Zhou Zhuoran looked at his professor in surprise and saw a genuine desire to teach in his eyes, rather than blame.

Suddenly, Zhou Zhuoran understood the purpose of his professor bringing him to this exchange event. It wasn’t because he was his most outstanding student but because he was his proudest student. It was precisely because he was too proud that the professor had brought him here to see a broader world, to witness people his age, yet more talented and still striving.

“Professor, I…” Zhou Zhuoran felt ashamed and wished he could find a hole to crawl into. But at the same time, he felt gratitude for the professor for helping him see himself more clearly, and he was also grateful to Chen Li for making him realize his mistake.

“To recognize one’s mistakes and make amends is the highest virtue,” the professor didn’t let Zhou Zhuoran continue, “I admit, Zhuoran, you have talent, but your arrogance hinders your development. As your teacher, it’s my duty to help you correct this. At the same time, I’m pleased you didn’t disappoint me.”

Zhou Zhuoran’s face blushed suddenly. It was undeniably a high praise, and it was the highest praise he had ever heard from his professor. Even when the professor commented on the works of some masters, he didn’t offer such unreserved praise.

“Zhuoran, remember this: some people are simply born for art. They possess not only exceptional talent but also an endless passion and an unwavering commitment. So, don’t envy or be jealous of them. The path they have to tread is much longer than ours. We just need to walk our own path step by step. One day, we will create our own world,” the professor turned and spoke with great sincerity.

Zhou Zhuoran understood the professor’s words. He was advising him not to envy or be jealous of Chen Li, but to walk his own path at his own pace and not lose his sense of equanimity while trying to catch up with others.

This was the professor’s advice and a transmission of his life experience. Suddenly, Zhou Zhuoran no longer envied Chen Li for having two master-level teachers because he knew his own teacher was the most suitable for him.

“Professor, I will remember,” Zhou Zhuoran said solemnly, truly taking the professor’s words to heart.

The professor nodded, feeling somewhat pleased. He was teaching Zhou Zhuoran as a closed-door disciple, and Zhou Zhuoran did have talent. As long as he didn’t stray from the right path, his future would undoubtedly be bright.

“If everything goes as planned, you should be able to see Chen Li’s painting later. Take a good look, and you’ll understand why I just praised Chen Li like that,” the professor said.

Zhou Zhuoran was not surprised at this moment. From the professor’s earlier praise of Chen Li, he had already guessed that Chen Li wasn’t just a volunteer at this exchange event; he had been formally invited to attend as a participant.

According to the event rules, every master participating in the exchange could choose to submit one or two of their paintings. These paintings would be anonymously displayed in the gallery for other masters to view and provide feedback on.

Because of the anonymity, the masters’ feedback would naturally be more objective and uninhibited. While some masters’ styles might be recognizable at a glance, in an anonymous setting, they could pretend not to know and critique freely. After all, it was an academic exchange, and anyone who took offense to such feedback would risk damaging their reputation within the art community.

Due to this rule, when Zhou Zhuoran heard the professor mention that they might see Chen Li’s painting later, he deduced that Chen Li was a participant rather than a volunteer.

At this moment, Zhou Zhuoran’s heart was filled with anticipation. Chen Li, who had been praised so highly by the professor, how extraordinary were his paintings? And he still couldn’t grasp what the professor meant by a painting having a soul and what kind of realm one needed to reach to achieve it.

Zhou Zhuoran hoped that today he would get to see Chen Li’s painting and find the answers he sought. He had a premonition that this answer would be very important to him, and perhaps, after experiencing this kind of realm, he would encounter fewer artistic obstacles in his future endeavors.

The calligraphy and painting exchange event began, divided into three sections: calligraphy, traditional Chinese painting, and non-traditional Chinese painting. The participating masters showed great enthusiasm, with more than two-thirds of them submitting their works, filling the gallery to the brim.

There was no specified order to view the artworks. People followed their own preferences, and several masters gathered around each painting to provide their critiques. The discussions were spirited and lively, filled with passionate exchanges of ideas.

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