Shi Lei placed the painting on the long table and stepped conscientiously to the side.
Wei Xingyue couldn’t even push through to the front to see, since many people had already crowded around it.
In fact, based on Chen Yanü’s reaction, everyone came to the basic conclusion that even if the painting Shi Lei had seen wasn’t close to Zhang Sengyou’s style, there was definitely something unique about it.
Just like what Old Bai said. At least it could provide them with another direction for their research on Zhang Sengyou’s works. Hence, before they had gathered around the painting or even seen it, they had already acknowledged it.
But when they saw it, they were stupefied.
A sentence appeared in everyone’s mind. That sentence only had two characters(1): liar!
Rather than thinking that Shi Lei had lied to them by taking a random Buddha painting and claiming that it was in Zhang Sengyou’s style, it was more for claiming that he knew nothing about art. After seeing his painting, they knew it was a complete lie.
It didn’t matter whether this painting was close to Zhang Sengyou’s style or not. Even if it wasn’t, it was good enough to make a nameless painter famous.
The techniques were too practiced and impossible to do without a few decades of hard work. In particular, Shi Lei had finished it within half an hour. Still, no one doubted its authenticity, since the ink was still wet.
Zhang Sengyou’s unique feature of a proportioned body manifested itself in the overall structure of the painting. The style was very Chinese-like and austere, which made the crowd feel like they had travelled back in time to the prosperous period of the Southern Dynasty. There were many temples and everyone was a faithful believer. It was merely a painting, yet it had the magic to take them back to the temples of ancient Tianzhu. Its divinity filled their hearts.
The noisy display room became silent. Everyone was immersed in the painting except for Shi Lei, who stood to the side doing nothing as if he had not been involved in it at all.
It had been around exactly one hour. The conversation before had wasted more than ten minutes and when he left the room to paint, he only had about forty minutes remaining. Only two or three minutes remained in Zhang Sengyou’s possession after he returned with the painting.
But that was more than enough!
From just the dead silence in the room, Shi Lei knew that this painting that had basically been painted by Zhang Sengyou himself had conquered everyone.
Old Bai was frozen in shock. When he saw the so-called copy of the painting from the Song Dynasty, although he recognized Zhang Sengyou’s style and technique with a single glance, it was still far from the shock that Shi Lei’s painting brought.
An inexpressible feeling filled his heart and he was deeply drawn to it in just that one glance.
If it wasn’t certain that Shi Lei was the one who drew this, if it wasn’t for the wet ink, Old Bai would almost believe that the painting was Zhang Sengyou’s real art.
This was the real form-of-line painting. It combined both the handwriting image and the new technique of Tianzhu painting. Although the previous painting was physically similar, it was far different spiritually. Just like what Shi Lei had said, it was a copy intentionally mimicking the technique used in the “Five Stars of the Lunar Mansions,” and every single stroke resembled that. But not only did this painting shock them, it immediately made them feel like it was a masterpiece that had really reached perfection in both its physical and spiritual forms.
Old Bai’s expression kept changing and his eyes filled with tears.
The expression of the man surnamed Xu changed drastically. “The techniques are not bad, and part of Zhang Sengyou’s style is indeed manifested in it, but I’m afraid that it’s not convincing enough to make us believe that this is the real Buddha painting,” he said, unwilling to give up.
No one answered him. Wei Xingyue finally pushed her way through to look at the Buddha painting Shi Lei had just finished.
She didn’t immerse herself in the painting like everyone else, but quickly glowered at Shi Lei. “Is this what you meant by never learning how to draw before?” she asked angrily in a low voice.
Shi Lei waved his hand indifferently. “I really didn’t. I can only draw this one. I spent so many years copying this whenever I was bored. Perhaps some details are perfect, but if you draw the same thing over and over again for a few years, you can also be at this level.”
“Do you think I believe you?” Wei Xingyue laughed coldly.
Shi Lei shrugged. “Suit yourself. Aiyo, I’m so tired from drawing. Come and massage my shoulders for me.”
Wei Xingyue gave him a fierce look. “Are you crazy?”
Shi Lei was shameless and pouted. “It doesn’t matter if I am. But you…I feel like you owe me an explanation. You’re the one who took me to a gathering like this. What exactly is on your mind? Don’t give me any obvious excuses. You know that I’m not an idiot, even if I’m not that smart.”
Wei Xingyue felt guilty and remained silent. She bit her lip and stole a glance at him.
“Old Bai…” The man surnamed Xu still didn’t want to give up and called out to Old Bai softly when no one else responded to him.
Old Bai raised his head at the voice. His eyes were teary.
Old Bai shook his head and sighed. “Everyone has seen both paintings now. If this is a copy of the painting, then it really manifests Zhang Sengyou’s essence. The one I saw before is simply a forced copy of it. Which one is better is obvious. Mr. Xu, I think you owe our young friend Shi Lei an apology. I also owe him an apology, as does everyone else in the room.”
After he finished his words, Old Bai didn’t give the man another look, instead making his way toward Shi Lei, bowing as low as he could with the support of his cane. “Young friend, please forgive my impoliteness just then. Compared to your painting, the one I have is nothing but a copy that was intentionally repainted. The painting you saw during your childhood is Zhang Sengyou’s real painting. I’m sorry. Please accept my apology!”
Everyone was shocked when he spoke. Shi Lei quickly supported Old Bai, embarrassed. “I was too arrogant. Honestly, it really depends on the person whether my painting or the other one is closer to the original. I just simply thought that the other painting wasn’t so amazing…”
It was the same three words from an hour ago, but they sounded completely different now.
At that time, everyone had thought that Shi Lei was young and naïve. Now they acknowledged what he said, although not all of them were completely convinced.
Of course, Old Bai’s painting still had its cultural value, but it wasn’t as high as what they thought it to be.
All the people present in the room were famous professionals. Since they had indeed been wrong before and Old Bai was the one who apologized first, many people cupped their hands and spoke to Shi Lei. “Shi Lei, we were too abrupt with our judgements. Our apologies for that.”
In an instant, the room was filled with apologies. Shi Lei had successfully showed off, but he now felt awkward.
Only the man surnamed Xu was extremely embarrassed. He couldn’t open his mouth to apologize to Shi Lei, but since Old Bai and the others already did, he couldn’t not do it either.
He wanted to pretend he didn’t exist to escape the apology, but Wei Xingyue raised her eyebrow and her voice. “Uncle Xu, what do you think?”
What do I think? I’m not Yuan Fang(2). How would I know what I think!? 1. “Liar” in Chinese is “pian zi,” which is two characters 2. Yuan Fang: a character from a famous historical Chinese drama. The line is “Yuan Fang, what do you think?” and it is followed by the reply “Sir, I think there’s something strange about it.” It is now a meme.