Qi Yanbai never expected that he would accidentally end up in Qi Zhe’s exhibition hall while casually visiting an art exhibition in China.
He looked at the sign by the entrance that read “Exhibition by a Renowned Artist,” and suddenly realized that Ashley had indeed mentioned something about Qi Zhe holding an exhibition.
Despite Qi Zhe’s questionable character, his talent was undeniably remarkable.
He was also relatively well-known in the art circle, so collaborating in such a large joint exhibition seemed reasonable.
However, Qi Zhe had a habit for his exhibitions.
In addition to displaying his own works, he would also exhibit works by his children.
It was as if these children were also a part of his life’s creations, open to judgment within the exhibition cabinets.
Qi Yanbai had once been a part of this as well.
As a result, his expression instantly became strange, as if he felt a subtle sense of impending confrontation with his own dark history.
Subconsciously, he didn’t want to let Lu Ye get too close to his past.
So, he intended to lead Lu Ye away from this area.
However, he was a step too slow.
Just as he hesitated, Lu Ye had casually strolled into the exhibition hall and stood by the entrance, observing.
Modern art was not as complex as classical art, and most people enjoyed it without needing to understand the artistic background or the artist’s life story.
This made it more accessible to amateurs like Lu Ye.
He strolled through the exhibition, occasionally stopping to admire works that caught his interest.
Qi Yanbai observed his preferences and realized that Lu Ye wasn’t completely devoid of artistic sensibility.
While not an expert in paintings, he had a good appreciation for them.
Lu Ye favored the Impressionist style of art and had a fondness for warm color tones.
He also tended to linger a bit longer in front of paintings with gentle and beautiful styles, engaging in more conversations with Qi Yanbai.
“What’s this painting about?” Lu Ye curiously asked, pointing at a particular artwork.
“A dove of peace?”
“It’s a white rose,” Qi Yanbai chuckled and explained, “This painting was created by the artist in his early years when his style was not yet fully defined.
At that time, he leaned more towards inspirational creation.
If you look closely, you’ll notice that he intentionally blurred the outlines, focusing more on the inconspicuous background, which is the core of the artwork.”
Lu Ye’s curiosity led him to approach the painting more closely.
Indeed, in a cluster of deep green and brown tones, he saw several intertwining rose stems.
“Amazing,” Lu Ye genuinely admired.
“You can see all that.”
“A painting is a reflection of the artist’s consciousness,” Qi Yanbai explained.
“Even artists who create commercial art unconsciously infuse their emotions and state of mind into their work.
It’s something beyond control.”
“So, if you want to know what’s on someone’s mind, you just look at their art?” Lu Ye asked.
“Sort of,” Qi Yanbai turned to Lu Ye with a smile.
“That’s why some people say that an artist’s heart is exposed in their artwork.”
“So if someone wants to see it….?” Lu Ye glanced at him casually, seemingly without much intention.
The spacious exhibition hall echoed with sporadic footsteps.
Qi Yanbai’s heart felt as though it had been pinched suddenly, a sour sensation mixed with a secretive and satisfied delight.
He knew exactly what Lu Ye was asking, but he couldn’t respond so directly.
“In that case, they’ll have to go in and see for themselves,” Qi Yanbai replied.
The gallery’s lighting changed its pattern just as Qi Yanbai blinked his eyes, momentarily interrupting their gaze.
Lu Ye naturally withdrew his gaze and redirected it to the nearby displayed artworks.
“I see,” Lu Ye smiled.
As they walked together through the exhibition hall, their steps leisurely, they stopped occasionally to admire pieces that caught their interest.
Qi Yanbai followed Lu Ye’s preferences, and suddenly, in a corner of the exhibition hall, he saw a painting that shouldn’t have been there.
He froze for a moment, as if he hadn’t expected to encounter it here.
It was a landscape painting, with bold colors and a daring style.
Warm tones infused the entire canvas, making it lively and bright.
The river of the Ilz flowed gently, and the winter snow under the evening sun glistened with delicate brilliance.
Every stroke on the painting was deeply familiar to Qi Yanbai.
This painting marked the moment when he left home for good, never returning, never giving Qi Zhe another piece of his work.
The criticism Qi Zhe had given him, ” clueless,” had haunted him for so many years, and he had yet to fully overcome it.
“clueless.” When Qi Yanbai had received that critique, he felt as though he would collapse.
But with time, when he stood in front of the painting again, he realized that Qi Zhe was right.
At that time, his purpose had been too clear, his focus was not on the strokes, and consequently, what he painted lacked depth.
It was just a pile of colors.
“Lu Ye, do you like this one?” Qi Yanbai’s emotions were complex when facing this painting.
He furrowed his brows slightly, his tone oddly calm.
“I don’t think it’s good.
The lines and composition are bad, rigid, lifeless.
It lacks vitality—it’s just rubbish.”
“Rubbish” was an excessively negative evaluation.
Lu Ye had never seen Qi Yanbai criticize someone so sharply.
At most, Qi Yanbai would complain privately and then try to mitigate it by saying they might be having a bad day.
However, even though the painting might not align with the preferences of those in the industry, in Lu Ye’s eyes, it was well-executed and certainly not deserving of being called “rubbish.”
“It’s not that bad,” Lu Ye said, looking at Qi Yanbai with surprise.
“I think it’s quite spirited.”
As he spoke, he extended his hand, pointing to a ray of light that fell through a cloud in the corner of the painting, saying, “Isn’t this part nice? I spotted it right away.”
Qi Yanbai followed Lu Ye’s gesture and saw a bird flying through the ray of light in the background.
He noticed it and was momentarily surprised.
That bird was his mark of creation, placed there unintentionally, hidden in the light.
A slight pang tugged at his heart, a mixture of memories and emotions.
He suddenly remembered the dream he had on the night they first met, the dream where Lu Ye, as his subconscious savior, joined him in that atmosphere and comforted him by saying, “It’s not bad.”
Now, that scene seemed to have walked out of the dream and into reality.
Lu Ye looked at him amidst changing lights and shadows.
His expression carried a hint of confusion but more so a sense of unfounded affirmation.
“After all, paintings are meant to be seen by people.” Qi Yanbai heard Lu Ye say.
“—I think it’s good.”
Unbeknownst to him, Lu Ye had once again led Qi Yanbai to face the impassable gap in his life, smoothing everything out with a pure heart devoid of intention.
He left a new imprint in Qi Yanbai’s soul.
Qi Yanbai’s heart skipped lightly for a moment, in rhythm with Lu Ye’s tone.
Then, suddenly, an inexplicable and perplexing feeling spread from the depths of his heart.
Qi Yanbai’s fingers twitched slightly, and he was overcome with an urge.
He didn’t know if soulmates truly existed, but he did know that, for him, Lu Ye was undoubtedly the most special person among the countless souls.
“This painting is indeed not well executed.” Qi Yanbai’s tone softened.
He calmly gazed at the artwork from a meter away, and then, with a slight quirk of his lips, he smiled.
“Because when I painted it, I was too young, and I didn’t understand what creation was or what a soul was.”
Lu Ye was slightly taken aback.
“Lu Ye,” Qi Yanbai extended his hand, pointing remotely at the bottom right corner of the artwork, at a modest floral signature.
He finally admitted, “This is my painting.”
“Art only has its essence when it’s painted for the most important person.” Qi Yanbai said, “This painting lacks depth.
It’s not pleasing to the eye but if you truly like it, I can paint another one for you.”
Lu Ye blinked, caught off guard by the sudden flood of information.
Before he could fully process the implications of Qi Yanbai’s words about the “most important person,” Qi Yanbai took a shallow breath and continued speaking.
“I’ll paint one that’s better.” Qi Yanbai murmured softly.
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