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Ultramarine Blue (episode 1)

This time, the kids of Montmartre were not content to make fun of the painter, his threadbare jacket or his badly trimmed beard. They had acted in a few seconds. The pieces of the broken easel stuck up towards the sky like the bones of a sea monster, the gutted tubes sweating their colors along the gutter. As for the canvases, some of which weren't even dry, the kids had sprinkled them with cheap red wine snatched from Mother Antoine's grocery store.

Pierre Guillaume was motionless, in the midst of the bursting laughter. It was still very funny, it looked like a living painting, life-size, built at random and without the artist's consent. Well, artist if you will...

For more than thirty years, Pierre had been smearing Sacré-Coeur, rue Lepic, chain funiculars, mechanically, his gaze absent. Paintings of a pathetic style, real tourist crusts. The funniest thing is that he managed to sell a few of them, enough, at least, to pay the rent on his attic and not starve.

He arrived every morning at eight o'clock, he set up his easel on its spot, and he painted laboriously until evening. Then he put his things away and left without a word. The painters who populated these places had become accustomed to him, like an element of the decor, barely alive, a kind of street lamp or public bench, in short. Besides, few of them knew his name. Most called him “the other” or “the silent one”….

That evening, Pierre would have preferred a thousand times to receive a slap in the face, but his attackers had deliberately chosen to attack only his equipment, as if the painter were less important than one of his brushes, as if he didn't exist. He mechanically picked up a miraculously intact tube of ultramarine blue, put it in his pocket and once again gazed at the debris that littered the square. He choked back a few tears, turned on his heels and disappeared.

To be continued....

© Fabrice Roy 2018

In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the French 19th century...


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