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Chapter 85 Part 1 - The Mysterious Art Museum

A street artist's life changed when he ended up at a mysterious art museum. DBT,Korean,Novel,Translation,Art,Artist,Slice of life,Poor to Rich,Mystery

Holding a Solo Exhibition (8)

Honestly, I was curious too.

Of course, I'm not curious about what's happening here.

The Musée d'Orsay in Paris had exhibited works that melted the glamorous or miserable lives of prostitutes into art. Of course, I hadn't visited it and had only seen the exhibition through photos or documents.

I remember Jean Beraud's 'Waiting' from the exhibition.

A painting of a woman standing in a neat and elegant black suit, with a man visible in the distance across the street.

To an audience aware that the exhibited paintings were about the art of prostitution, the painting provokes curiosity about the relationship between the woman and the man in it. At first glance, she seems to be a chaste woman waiting for her husband.

I also recall Pablo Picasso's 'Prostitute in a Bar'.

The lewd streets of prostitution Picasso used to frequent in his youth.

Behind the glamorous lights of 19th century Paris' Moulin Rouge and Maxim's Café was the sorrow and misery of prostitutes that dominated the era.

Can prostitution become art?

Of course, the act itself cannot be considered art.

It remains art because many painters captured their emotions in their paintings.

Even in humanity's first epic, the Epic of Gilgamesh, the harlot Shamhat appears. She was a priestess of the temple in Uruk and a prostitute, who opened Enkidu's eyes to sex and civilization. Thus, prostitution has coexisted with us since ancient times.

Imagining, thinking, and reading about it is different from actually stepping into that world. My pupils quivered like they were in an earthquake as I followed Henri.

Henri walked with a waddling or toddling gait, unhesitatingly passing the entrance of the brothel.

Pillars of the community or thugs stood here and there, arms crossed over their thick arms, but no one hindered his entry. Nor did they seem to welcome him.

"Hurry up, Ban! This place is dangerous, even a momentary eye contact could cost you money."

Gosh, do I have to pay just for making eye contact?

Well, that's probably not the literal meaning. It means that making prolonged eye contact with a woman is a signal to negotiate. I bowed my head low and only peeked around with my eyes. If I saw a prostitute looking my way, I deliberately avoided eye contact.

Deep inside the brothel.

I recalled the now-gone Kowloon Walled City of Hong Kong as I passed through the dark, damp alleys.

Hong Kong's 'sin city', filled with opium dens, dirty, crawling with rats, and dangerously lawless.

People with long pipes in their mouths.

Their eyes were heavily unfocused, and at a glance, they were not in their right minds.

Would it feel like this to be in the middle of a tumor created by the devil?

It felt like my soul was rotting away from the inside.

I passed by the nauseating smells, and the filthy beds that seemed to make your whole body itch just by lying on them for a moment. And at the deepest part of the brothel, in the largest living room, Henri arrived, taking off his hat and placing it on his chest.

"Ladies. The dwarf uninvited guest is here today."

I peeked inside the living room from behind Henri.

Old sofas with visible wear marks everywhere.

Prostitutes lounging comfortably on them. About thirty women were resting, scattered around the living room. They either pretended not to see Henri or waved their hands lightly.

Henri glanced back at me and gestured with his eyes.

"Come on, my spot is over there."

Huh? You have your spot?

It looks like a resting area for prostitutes. Why do you have a separate spot?

Henri took my hand and led me to a corner of the living room, to a solitary chair in the most secluded spot.

"There's only one chair, so you'll have to sit on the floor. Is that okay? Sorry for the poor hospitality to a friend."

Hmm, the chair is for one person.

It's a bit much to ask for a chair in someone else's business place.

I guess it's okay. I'm Korean, and I'm not unfamiliar with sitting on the floor.

"It's fine, I'll sit on the floor."

"Ha, you're surprisingly down-to-earth for how you look. That's a strength of yours, indeed! Ha, ha! Go ahead, sit down, friend."

Henri flung open a small cupboard next to the sofa and began to take something out. On closer inspection, they were all painting tools. He had brought his own painting tools here.

"Going to paint?"

"This is my workplace. If I'm at my workplace, it's only natural to work. I even paid off the pimps to secure this spot, so it would be a waste not to paint."

That explains why none of the pimps or tough guys stopped us. They let us in for money. Well, I would dislike an uninvited guest who's just a nuisance and doesn't bring any money too.

Henri handed me a bucket and said.

"Could you go over there and fetch some water?"

"Ah, yes."

I took the bucket and stood up, heading towards the large water jar Henri indicated with his eyes. Just helping out by fetching some water seemed like a very difficult task for me at the moment.

"He’s Asian, right? I wonder what Asian skin looks like. I'm curious."

"I heard they have scales on their backs. That's why they're good swimmers."

"No, you fool. They said they hardly wear any clothes in their lifestyle. I have a sailor client who told me. They don't have scales. But they do have webbed feet."

"Hey, Asian guy. How about me? I'll give you a discount, oh, you're quite handsome upon closer look? I wouldn't mind doing it for free with you, how about it?"

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