The rain sprinkled on the roof and on the surface of the canal, creating a rhythmic sound much like crickets at night. Stefan sat at a stool in his kitchen observing the canvas in his living room. His houseboat was mostly one large room consisting of all things that make it a home. Kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom. He throws the doors and windows open when it rains, creating a cold and slightly damp atmosphere, much to his cat’s dismay. She sat curled up in Stefan’s reading chair, trying to stay away from the wet window. He observed the canvas from afar. Then zeroed in on it suddenly.
The colors were slightly off. There was no way this would pass as a reproduction of Almond Blossoms. Was he in over his head? Or was this a work in progress doomed to be just that for years and years?
He mixed some colors again, studying intently the high resolution print out of van Gogh’s masterpiece. He had to make sure each brushstroke was accounted for, and that each color was mixed to perfection. His eyes squinted while he compared his work to that of the original, made some adjustments, and added detailing.
Canal cruises coasted by all day in the winter, getting a glimpse into his houseboat as he worked. He often felt as though he was on display, much like a work of art in a museum. He was in a fish tank for casual observers to make judgments, assumptions, and to see into a day in the life of a reproduction artist. He despised the way his life was reduced to a miniscule interaction by a passerby, and laughed at how little they knew about his life, how little they knew his struggles. Stefan realized in that moment that maybe he and Almond Blossoms weren’t that different after all. Interpretation is relative within the beholder. How was he any different than a museum piece, unable to speak for itself… to tell the viewer exactly who and what he was?
How silent art is, only able to share what is visible by the viewer.
He let these cruises go by, barely aware of them now. He had to focus on this repo. His gallery was opening soon and he knew his patrons wanted this work done yesterday. As he tried to understand Almond Blossoms, he almost forgot how integral the artist is to the work. If he didn’t struggle like van Gogh, would he still get as much recognition? Would he ever be immortal?
His cat stretched and let out a meow and looked to the dreary outside. Stefan stepped back again, pet her, and pondered his creation… or rather, re-creation. In that moment, he understood that his work will never be van Gogh’s but will still be beautiful replicas. He also understood that he had to embody the feelings of a piece of art in order to create one. Hours later, he signed his name in the corner of the canvas, knowing that this was as close to original perfection as he was going to get.