Big Ulle was lingering in front of a cave, shifting from one foot to another, sighing and scratching his large head in such a manner that hinted on natural indecisiveness, which was, actually, the case.
He was a remarkably huge specimen even by the cavemen’s standards but, unlike the rest of his fellow tribesmen, he possessed an unusually meek and shy character that earned him a reputation of a dull witted overgrown guy. In addition to his awkward countenance, he always wore badly tailored and shapeless fur tunics that refused to fit his frame, and their fronts were always smeared with splashes of some unknown substance that varied in color and created a dazzling effect, not unlike a psychedelic rainbow.
The club master, who occupied the cave during the business hours and who at the moment was working in a close proximity to the cave entrance, threw toward his visitor an amused look and finally called out,
- Hello, there! How can I help you?
- Eh… Umh…I… Well, - Big Ulle shrugged his shoulders and stepped closer.
- Do you have some business you wanna talk over with me? – Asked the Club Master, smiling encouragingly.
- Why… Yeah…Sssmatter of fact, I do, - Big Ulle nodded and produced something, wrapped in animal skin from the deep recesses of his outfit. It looked like a small oblong object.
- I… Well, I’ve heard you deal with art objects, - He added shyly.
- Eh… You’ve heard right, - Beamed The Club Master, - Hey, care to come in?
The Big Ulle stepped over the threshold and then glanced curiously around. The entire place was literally filled with clubs of different sizes and design, as well as Mammoth tusks and skins.
- So, what do you think of this, huh? – The Club master waived one of his latest creations in the air, - Sleek design, light to handle, streamlined features! And they call me a mere artisan, huh? I’ll tell you, friend – club making is no less art than cave painting.
- Yeah… Looks nice, - Big Ulle coughed politely and said, - What about art objects?
- Ah! Those? – The Club Master nodded towards several dusty statuettes, tucked into a corner, - Yes, I sell those too, sometimes. They all represent the Mother Earth. Well, people like to buy those, as a gift. Artists bring those things to me. I sell them, for a percentage.
- I also do some artworks, - ventured Big Ulle, - Thought you might be interested, like…
- I did not know you were an artist, huh! – The Club Master eyed Big Ulle with genuine interest, - Care to show me your stuff?
- Sure, - Big Ulle unwrapped his object and handed it to the Club Master.
- Hmm… - The latter took the object and inspected it.
- I don’t think I’ll be interested, sorry, - He finally said, returning it, - See? It is not a proper art. It…how they say it? It has no commercial value.
- It does not?
- Well, at least this is my honest opinion. Listen, why don’t you trot down to that commercial cave-gallery that deals with modern stuff? Maybe they would be able to help you. They love stuff that’s cont… contra…controversial. Me, I am a simple guy, you know. Them, they might have another opinion, being artsy people and such.
- Thanks, - Big Ulle nodded solemnly and started to move towards the exit.
- Good luck to you, - The Club Master yelled after him and got back to his work. Big Ulle nodded again without looking back and walked out of the cave.
The cave gallery resided at the foot of a mountain, in the middle of a populated area. Big Ulle reached the place and halted at the entrance, transfixed by the sign of a huge crowd inside and by the unusual clamor that filled the air with polite murmurs, largely overpowered by the enthusiastic screams of gallery director. The seasonal grand opening of a new exhibition seemed to be in progress.
- Come on, folks, don’t be shy! The artist himself is here! Step closer and say ‘hi’ to him.
The gallery director was a thin but very tall man, dressed with a certain flair of a person around the town. He stood in front of a colorful cave painting and waived his arms. The artist, a sulky fellow with a bizarre hairdo, was sitting nearby and scanning the crowd gloomily.
- The latest masterpiece is finally here! – The Director yelled, - Look at it folks, and look carefully. What you see before you is a wonderfully abstract representation of our famous hunting season! Simply look over here, towards this corner. Awesome colors, dynamic forms, depth and powerful composition! Surely, this is the best conceptual piece of art I’ve encountered in years!
- Looks a bit weird to me, - volunteered someone from the rear of the crowd.
- And why is that, friend? – screeched the director, trying to locate the offender of the arts with piercing eyes, - What exactly weird, as you put it, do you find in this?
- Eh… I dunno… You said it supposed to be hunting or something… Don’t see any animals, no real ones at least. All looks funny to me, excuse me for telling.
- Ah! It is because the artist used the means of abstract representation! – Retorted the director in his most malicious tone, - Just look at it one more time, folks! Don’t you see the animals, over here? And hunters, over there?
- Those are just blotches, - another voice said.
- How you suppose to sell it, anyway? – Inquired a stout woman, looming at the front, - It is a wall art. Will you be breaking the wall or what?
- No, no, no! You’ll be able to buy limited edition prints instead! Those are less expensive and they are easy to transport, - The director bend down, picked a piece of animal skin up from a big pile and showed it to the spectators.
- The exact replica of this artwork, as all of you can see!
- But it is not the same. It is not the real painting, - Another voice said.
- Huh! It is as good as the original, - Replied the director.
- How come? You can make thousands of those. It’s like making New Year congratulating cards. Just a piece of skin. Nothing special.
- Huh! No, it is not the same, I assure you! Look at the right lower corner. Every one of these replicas has been signed by the artist himself. So, they are as good as originals.
- I see…
- In that case, yeah…
- And how much do you charge for those?
- Clever devil, huh?
Big Ulle prodded carefully inside the gallery and attempted to hide his bulk in the furthest and the darkest corner. No one paid him any attention. The sale began.
It was a good two hours later when the last customer walked out of the gallery. Many carried with them a newly purchased copy. The gallery director grinned and rubbed the palms of his hands. He turned to the artist who until then remained immobile, and said,
- Well, my friend, how did you like it? At least thirty or more pieces have been sold on the spot, huh?
- What ‘bout my percentage? – Replied the artist sulkily.
- See me tomorrow, all right? I’ve got to sort out my in and out records first.
- You told me the same crap the last time.
- Didn’t I pay you then?
- Only the half of what you had promised.
- Oh come now! Without me, you won’t be able to sell a single thing.
- People appreciate art, you know.
- But they hardly want to pay for it.
- Excuse me, - Big Ulle, who finally worked up his entire courage, stepped forward and approached the gallery director. The director peered at the elephantine figure that suddenly appeared in front of him and mumbled tiredly,
- Yes? Something I can help you with?
- Yeah… You see, I am an artist, like…
- Ah! Another artist. No thanks, friend. We are not taking up any new artists at this time, sorry.
- Um… I see… Maybe…
- Maybe you can like… Take a look and say like…What do you think?
- All right, all right. Show me your stuff! Are you a painter?
- Sculptor, - Big Ulle produced his object and passed it to the director.
- Huh? What is this? A sculpture, you said? – The director sniffed, staring at it, dumbfounded.
- What is it made off? Some kind of rock? Or chalk? Why is it so white?
- It’s a rock. I found it in the gorge, - Replied Big Ulle shyly.
- Then why is it polished so? I mean, where’s texture? Where’s expression? I see none.
He handed a sculpture back to Big Ulle and shook his head,
- Sorry but we cannot consider it. It is not art. It is… I don’t know what is it! Very amateurish work. And too disturbingly unusual. Sorry.
- Yeah, - Sighed Big Ulle, looking at the exquisitely realistic marble statuette of a young female he was holding, - I guess, it is not proper art, yeah. Well, sorry for the bother.
He wrapped his creation in the rugged piece of animal skin and began to walk towards the exit.
- I guess, I need a lot of learning to do still, - He mumbled, emerging in the open and starting to propel himself down a dusty road.
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