New York Metropolitan Museum.
It is a wonderful space where works of art are periodically changed each year and give artistic joy to the people.
But to an Art College applicant Lee Jinho, who has visited the same museum tens and hundreds of times, it was no longer a special place.
“Ah, boring. The exhibition they prepared this time aren’t interesting at all. To think they’ll take entrance fee for something like this, they have no sense of shame.
Although the “fee” was merely a mandatory donation and Jinho only paid 1 cent to enter, Jiho grumbled on that money is money as he looked around. In truth, other museums had more diverse displays, but Jinho wasn’t in a position to pay the museums’ entrance fee and always, and could only, visited the Metropolitan Museum to learn artistic knowledge and culture.
But now even that seemed to have reached the limit, for Jinho’s eyes couldn’t see any new piece of artwork.
There wasn’t any change in Jinho’s eyes as he slowly walked by the displays of artworks from ancient to modern times. No, there couldn’t be any change.
“Ancient Egyption displays are all obvious too. Mayan culture… hah, too boring. From what I know, this showed up last year as well. Isn’t there anything different?”
As Jinho looked through the artworks, he thought that they were exceedingly predictable and boring, and went to the painting displays.
To Jinho’s eyes, who visits at least 10 times a month, and on average more often than that, however large the museum was, there was no way he’ll find a new artwork.
Jinho set down on a bench in the middle of a room filled with ancient Greece Roman statues and sighed.
“At this rate I won’t get any artwork inspiration for my portfolio today too. Hah.”
Jinho, who became 24 this year, was an art college applicant. Back in Korea, Jiho didn’t drew because he had talent, but simply because he liked drawing. He believed manhwas, animations, game illustrations, and vintage artworks were all pieces of art, but the society around him didn’t think the same.
To get into art college, one had to learn college prep art. It also meant that nothing could start unless one fit himself into the stereotype of the society.
And so Jinho chose to study abroad. And as soon as he got out of the army, Jiho got on a plane and went to New York.
‘Dammit. What’s so wrong about drawing whatever you want when you want to?’
Jinho took out a sketchbook from his backpack.
As he flipped through the sketchbook’s pages filled with countless drawings, life came back to Jinho’s eyes. ‘Even though I was the one who draw them, they’re quite funny drawings.’ Jinho thought so as he turned the pages, and grabbed a pencil as empty space appeared.
And then he began sketching.
*Skretch skretch*, the pencil in Jinho’s hand gracefully swam on top of the paper. At first Jinho drew the outline of the statue in front of him, and then drew on top armors and weapons from his mind, creating a peculiar drawing.
“Even though it’s so fun this way.”
But even he knew the truth. Drawings drawn like that weren’t worth much. Jinho sighed once again as he counted the dates.
“I’ll have to finish the portfolio within two months”
Maintaining the student visa through a private language school was nearing its limits.
There wasn’t anything he was learning, and there wasn’t anything to learn. He merely put his name on the visa to maintain his status as student. Of course he could’ve learned English from language schools, but Jinho met and talked with the natives instead, and learned English between real Americans. At first, he just couldn’t understand what others were saying and underwent hardships, but after getting used to the language, he could understand the words and talking wasn’t much of a problem.
Jinho stared blankly at the sketchbook and then closed it.
He needed to finish about 20 pieces of artwork for his portfolio, but so far he finished only 3 pieces. To finish 17 works in two months, forget sleeping, he have to skip meals to work. But since camping out in the studio wouldn’t present any ideas, Jinho instead went to the museum for a change of pace.
But sadly, so far there was nothing that evoked Jinho’s inspiration.
“Let’s look around a bit more and then go work.”
Jinho stood up and started walking through the hallways once again.
Since he hasn’t been to modern art displays recently, Jinho decided to look around a bit more before going back. As he walked through the hall and up the stairs to the upper floor, an open and unique display hall unlike the modest ones from before came into his eyes. Even the artworks had unusual forms and shape like the display hall, and Jinho could feel that he came to the right place.
This was the only place where one could plant a stick and call it art.
At that moment, an artwork came into Jinho’s eyes.
An artwork in which simple color palette chaotically colored the canvas caught Jinho’s eyes. At first it seemed like Rothko’s artwork, but upon closer inspection the pattern in the painting was more diverse and disorderly. There was a bit of distance from Rothko’s pieces that’s motto was simple.
Who painted this? Was there an artwork I didn’t see before?
Jinho thought so as he took a look at the artwork’s card for the artist’s name, but instead he tilted his head in confusion.
“… it’s all question marks?”
Name, unknown. Year, unknown, Type, unknown.
Staring at the card on which not a single information was written, Jinho dispiritedly turned to the artwork. As he found that it wasn’t done by a famous artist, Jinho’s view on the artwork took a drastic turn. Now that he looked at it, the brushstrokes were crude and the unknown gesso had formed clumps and mixed harshly with the paint.
“Wow. If they’re going to put something like this up, they should put my paintings up instead. Even I can draw this much.”
Crossing his arms, Jinho took back five steps to examine the painting.
As he blankly looked at the painting, someone tapped on his shoulder.
“Hey, buddy. What time do you think it is to still remain here?”
“It’s closing time soon. What are you still doing here? Didn’t you hear the notice?”
“Clo, closing time?”
At the security’s words, Jinho panicked. He definitely entered around lunch time, but closing time already? Unsure if the security was playing a trick on him, Jinho checked his watch.
“It, it’s real?”
“You think it’s fake? Hurry and get out. We need to clean up.”
Incredibly, the watch indicated that it was far past eight o’clock.
As Jinho dumbfoundedly stared into his watch, the security warned him to get out before he calls the cops.
Only then did Jinho started walking dejectedly toward the exit. Even so Jinho couldn’t understand what had happened and shook his head in confusion.
“What a strange guy.”
The security shooked his head as he watched Jinho go out.
“To stare for hours at a blank wall. Is he insane or something? For such a young man to be like that… shame.”
“Just what happened?”
Jinho who came back to a basement room in Queens put down his backpack and shook his head.
Even if he thought about the incident, it was just too ridiculous how he wasted the time away. There were many artworks that he had to draw , and now he had one less day to finish them. Others may say that it’s just one day, but since a day delay had already became a month delay, there was definitely a problem.
Jinho washed his face in the sink and stretched his hand out for a towel. But his hand swept through an empty space instead. After waving his hand around through air multiple times, Jinho let out a groan.
“Ah, I took it all away for laundry. Hah, it’s cold.”
Now November. Definitely a Fall season. Consequently it wasn’t as horribly cold as Jinho thought, but for some reason the cold permeated all the way through his bones in the basement room. As his mind became stressed, his body must’ve became weak as well and turn sensitive to the temperature.
“If it’s like this already, how will I live during winter. Haah!”
Jinho roughly wiped the dripping water from his face with toilet paper and threw himself on top of his bed without even changing his clothes.
As the bed creaked from the impact, Jinho could see dusts on top of the sheets flew into the air. However, Jinho wasn’t bothered. He had became used to such a life a long time ago.
Jinho muttered to himself like habit and put his hands on his face. His hands felt cold from his still-frigid face.
As he calmly thought about his portfolio while lying down, Jinho grabbed onto his head.
“Dammit, just when can I finish the 17 pieces! There’s just no ideas, no ideas!”
In the portfolio, there had to be a common theme throughout the 20 artworks.
Although there was a general guideline for what kind of artworks the schools wanted, in the end it was a problem about the artist’s creativity. For a same theme, one could draw an apple hanging from a tree, and another could draw Steven Chase’s company mark. But the current Jinho couldn’t draw anything, since nothing came to his mind when he looked around.
Sighing again and again, Jinho got up. Checking the clock that pointed 10 o’clock, Jinho sat down in front of an aisle. Blankly staring at the unfinished sketch plainly on his canvas, Jinho stretched his hand and grabbed a pencil,
and then put it down again.
His phone which was usually quiet suddenly had starting ringing again. The voice from the speaker was of a man.
[Jinho, come out.]
“No way, I’m busy.”
[Busy, ha Bullsh*t.]
The person on the other end laughed at Jinho’s reply. His friend, Jo Sangcheol, knew about Jinho’s situation more than anyone. After first meeting in the language school and learning they’re the same age, the two exchanged phone numbers and became best friends after coming to US. No, perhaps only what Jinho thought that way, since Sangcheol was one of very few Korean friends Jinho knew.
Jinho who made a displeased face at Sangcheol’s laugh gave in and nodded.
“Alright. But I’m only eating dinner and then leaving today. I need to work. There aren’t many days left until the deadline, dammit.”
[Yeah yeah. I get it so come to the subway. Let’s eat some chicken for once.]
Finishing the call, Jinho once again put on his coat and walked out of the studio.
“Uuugh, hick, uuaagh.”
“Idiot, why would you drink so much when you’re weak to alcohol? Hah, it smells.”
“Shut up…. Uuaagh!”
Sangcheol shook his head as he tapped on Jinho’s back, who was throwing up in the restaurant’s bathroom stall.
“The guy who said he’ll only eat drank even more than me. Finish throwing up already and wash your mouth.”
“Hah, you’re throwing up disgustingly a lot. I’m going out first. Come out after washing yourself clean.”
Once Sangcheol left the bathroom with his nose pinched, Jinho who was left alone grabbed onto the toilet and let the tears he held back flow as he cried.
<Miracle Drawing! 1.> End
Translator : CSV
Proofreader : Kuhaku