About impostor and forced art
I finished giving the last brushstroke on the canvas when the phone started ringing. I moved away from the painting without raising my eyes from this last detail, gaining perspective of the work and when I was far enough away, I turned my head thinking of the good result I had had: It was a magnificent painting. When I reached my phone, I could read the name of the director of the museum.
– How much longer? We’ll open in less than ten minutes, and it has to be there.
– I have spent the night awake to finish it, perhaps if you were more careful with… -The sound of my own hoarse voice surprised me. After all the concentrated night I was not aware of the accumulated fatigue. I didn’t finish the sentence, I told him it would be on time and I hung up. I turned back to the canvas, admired it for a few seconds, and with a pencil wrote a tiny “35” on the edge.
I went down the stairs of the apartment with the painting under my arm wrapped in a soft sheet. Crossing the street, I tried with both hands to make sure no one could see the contents, holding the sheet against the edges. I was a couple of streets away from the museum, but no one is interested in prying eyes in such matters.
I surrounded the museum to find myself in one of the secondary entrances with the director, who was waiting impatiently for me. When he saw me, he entered the building suggesting that I follow him and there, at last, I was able to develop the work with the greatest of care.
– The paint may be wet, I’ve put the finishing touches recently.
He gently waved his hand in front of me, downplaying my speech -or telling me that it will shut me up- as he looked closely at the canvas. After a few seconds of silence, the man smiled and felt over the pockets of his trousers to locate an envelope he kindly offered me. I counted the money inside while he protected the painting with the cloth again.
– Twice in the same week, who could have imagined it… We had run out of reservations. Imagine that it’s time to open and she’s not in her place!
I nodded insistently to the director’s words while I kept the money inside my coat. Before saying goodbye, he told me to prepare the next one, to avoid setbacks, and added that, as always, I would get a good paycheck.
I walked to the apartment, slowly and thinking about how I would approach it this time. Each time had been different: I began by sketching, tracing from a corner, or going into detail from the beginning. I was also thinking, like every time, about this commission: Wasn’t it cheaper to improve the security of the museum? Perhaps, after so much, it no longer mattered: If she ever appeared, the truth was, people would scream to the four winds that it was a fraud.
I was so immersed in my mind that, without realizing it, I had come home. After a brief breakfast, I took a new canvas, prepared the paintings, and before I started, I marked the canvas one more time: “36“. I had decided, this time I would start with the mysterious smile.