Artistic Life (Arc 10.9)
Jing Yang walked into the reception hall where the press conference was being held, surrounded by bodyguards. There were at least a hundred different media companies waiting to interview him. All the medium-big reporters were there. Cui Yan had already paid a greeting to their higher-level management, so although the situation seemed very unfavourable for Jing Yang, it was actually all to help him expose the truth about Su Mo’s plagiarization.
Jing Yang brought all his evidence and was just waiting for the journalists to ask him to bring it out, letting them record everything.
The first reporter asked, “Could I please ask why your painting’s so similar to Merciful Grace and even presented it at the exhibition?”
“The reason’s very simple: Merciful Grace’s composition and ideas were all mine and I finished painting it first. He just handed it in earlier than me. Before, we used to live together, but I’ve never entered his studio. I’ve also never locked the door to my own studio, so it was easy for him to look at my work. I’ve always created my own original works, so of course I would dare to present it with a clear conscience.”
“Your statement is different from Su Mo’s. Although he also mentioned you two used to live together, he implied that you peeked at his works and then copied him. Furthermore, everybody knows Merciful Grace is Su Mo’s famous award-winning work. You said the inspirations and composition behind Merciful Grace were all yours- could I please ask if you have proof?”
“Of course.” Jing Yang said calmly, “If I didn’t have evidence, I wouldn’t have brought my work out or attended today’s press conference. The reason why I never revealed the evidence before was to give Su Mo time on behalf of our former friendship. I hoped that he could wake himself up and take the initiative to admit his mistakes to me. I waited and waited, but all he did was continue to vilify me until I finally lost hope and made the decision to show the world the truth today.”
“Then please show your evidence.”
Below, the reporters were already ready to film the evidence Jing Yang was about to reveal. There were a dozen media companies recording live and airing it right now. The spectators were all also waiting to see what evidence he would bring out.
The assistant Cui Yan arranged for Jing Yang took out a photo from his document bag and showed it to all the reporters. The photograph was magnified in the big screen beside him so all the reporters and spectators could see it clearly.
“This photograph was when I was five. My mom was holding me beside a blooming crab apple tree. My dad took the picture. My whole family likes this photo very much. When I was small, I even drew this picture many times. Although it wasn’t that good, you could still see the outline.”
The assistant took out the drawings Mu Jin had drawn when he was young one by one. They were clearly drawn by a child. Although it wasn’t very good, when brought together with the photograph, the resemblance was clear.
“I already had these drawings appraised by an official source. Their analysis confirmed that these were drawn more than twenty years ago.”
Jing Yang was glad that this world’s technology was fairly developed, so anything could be appraised. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to take this out as evidence since others could say the evidence was forged.
“Now, let’s look at my Merciful Grace and Su Mo’s Merciful Grace, then contrast it to this photograph.”
The two paintings and the photograph appeared on the big screen. Jing Yang spoke as he looked at the big screen, “My mom liked that crab-apple tree very much, so when I was painting Merciful Grace, I used the same colours of the crab-apple tree in my painting. As it happens, the colours Su Mo uses in his painting are virtually identical to my own.
“The little shrub in the photo was also a source of my inspiration. In that photo, my mother was hugging me, so I painted it so it looked like it was kneeling in front of my mother, to show how thankful I was to my mother.
“For the above-mentioned evidence, we can also say it’s just another coincidence. However, even the clothes my mother and I were wearing as well as the decorative designs on them are the same. I don’t know if this could still be called a coincidence.”
Su Mo sat in front of the television alone, watching the live broadcast. When the assistant took the photo out, alarm bells blared in his mind. His hands couldn’t stop shaking as a bad premonition overwhelmed him.
He didn’t think he would have such a photo. He had always believed there was nothing Mu Jin wouldn’t tell him. If Mu Jin had brought this up as evidence before he submitted his piece for the exhibit, he could still say he was inspired after seeing that photograph. But now, he had already won and even told the press many times that his inspiration came from his grandmother. It was too late to take back his words.
He did it on purpose! He definitely did it on purpose! Su Mo glared at the TV furiously, wishing his glare could burn Mu Jin to death through the TV screen.
Su Mu hugged his head, thinking about what he would do later. What could he say to refute Jing Yang’s words, what could he do to prove that he was inspired by the painting himself? If he couldn’t come up with something, he would be finished, absolutely finished!
Jing Yang spoke, “If you guys think this picture and a few children’s draws isn’t enough to prove anything, then please listen to this second piece of evidence I have. “
After seeing the evidence, the reporters already believed in Jing Yang’s words and were shocked at how Su Mo had shamelessly twisted the truth like that. They all wanted to rush back and criticize how Su Mo had plagerized Mu Jin, but upon hearing there was still more evidence, they immediately stopped and waited with rapt attention.
Jing Yang’s assistant broadcasted an audio clip that recorded a conversation between Jing Yang and Su Mo.
“Mu Jin, where are you going?”
“There’s only the two of us here now, so you can stop pretending now. Do you think we can continue living under the same roof now? How stupid do you think I am, thinking I would continue to live here so you can continue plagiarizing my work?”
“I wanted to apologize for copying your painting, but I really wanted to win this competition, so I did what I did. We’ve been friends for so many years- you should forgive me just this once. I swear I won’t do it again.”
In the clip, Su Mo personally admitted he had copied the painting. There was no way Su Mo could refute this piece of evidence.
Jing Yang took a document out of the assistant’s hands and personally showed it to the reporters, “I got the clip appraised by a professional. This is the report. Not only does it prove the recording’s real, but it also proves that the voices in this clip are Su Mo and I’s.”
He recorded it, he actually recorded it! Su Mo’s face turned ashen as he stared at the screen with wide eyes. He was finished. This time, he was completely and utterly finished.
Su Mo fell in a daze as he hugged himself, thinking about what he would do after this. He trembled in fear, unable to control the tears rolling down his eyes. All the years he spent painting were useless. Now, he would never again be able to go along the road of painting. With such a big scandal made public, nobody would want to buy his paintings and he might also be expelled from school.
Su Mo shrunk himself on the sofa as he thought about his wretched future, not even noticing when the live broadcast had finished. His cell phone suddenly rang, waking him up. He jumped up from the sofa, looking at his phone in fear.
He slowly approached the phone, his fingers trembling as he picked it up. He closed his eyes, praying that the call wouldn’t bring bad news. When he opened his eyes, he saw his mother’s number on the screen. Su Mo released a sigh of relief as he picked up the call.
“... Hello, Mom.” Su Mo’s voice was very small, as if he was worried somebody would hear.
“Su Mo,” Mother Su screamed loudly, “Where are you? Hurry over to the hospital, your grandmother’s being treated right now. Hurry up!”
“What?!” Su Mo shouted in shock, “Why is Grandmother in the hospital?!”
Mother Su sobbed, “Your grandmother saw Mu Jin’s press conference, and then… hurry up and rush over! The doctor said your grandmother won’t be able to make it, so come quickly and see her for the last time.”
Su Mo’s mind blanked out as he instinctively rushed to the hospital to see his grandmother for the last time.
When Su Mo’s mother learned somebody had plagiarized her grandson’s work, she went furious, demanding that no matter how many connections Su Mo’s father had to use, he had to sue him.
Then when she saw Mu Jin was going to have a press conference, she insisted on sitting in front of the TV to watch the live broadcast, saying she wanted to personally see what excuses the person who plagiarized her grandson would make.
Although Su Mo’s grandmother was old and her body wasn’t well, her mind was still sound. She had been a successful career woman when she was young, single-handedly raising Su Mo’s dad and founding their family’s company. As such, Su Mo’s father had always held deep filial piety towards her.
When Jing Yang publicized his evidence, Su Mo’s grandmother naturally understood and knew that with the appraisal reports, the evidence was real. Her heart surged with emotions- she never expected her own grandson to do such vile deeds. Later, there would be people shouting for their lives. His future prospects were ruined, and their Su Family will have lost all dignity. She thought back to when she was flaunting to all her family and friends. Now, it had all become a joke. They had become a laughingstock. A sense of unbearable humiliation filled her.
Although a myriad of changes went through Su Mo’s grandmother’s heart, her face was still normal, so nobody in their family realized something was wrong. It wasn’t until she heard her grandson personally admit he plagiarized his painting and even wanted Mu Jin to forgive him, that her eyes rolled back and she fainted.
Su Mo’s parents immediately brought her to the hospital in a panic, but because she was too old and her body was too frail, the impact of the attack was too big and she lost her will to live. After trying to rescue her several times, the doctor finally warned the family with good intentions and told them to call everyone to see her for one last time before starting to prepare for her funeral.
When Su Mo arrived at the hospital and saw his mother sobbing in the hospital ward, he immediately rushed up and grabbed his mother’s shoulder, “What happened to Grandma? How is she?”
Su Mo’s mother couldn’t speak and just shook her head, crying.
Su Mo pushed open the door and saw his grandmother was lying on the bed, already covered by a white mortuary sheet. He saw his father kneeling by the bed, crying bitterly and softly knelt down on the floor.
Father Su raised his head and immediately stood up when he saw Su Mo kneeling by the door, rushing over and kicking him in the stomach, “You still have the shame to come here?! You killed your grandmother! How could you still have the face to come see her?!”
Su Mo was kicked to the floor. He covered his stomach in pain, unable to get up for a long time.
“I’ll beat you to death, you little bastard!” Su Mo’s father gave Su Mo another kick.
Mother Su was originally planning to endure it and not block him, allowing Father Su to vent by beating his son before pleading for him. However, seeing how Father Su really seemed intent on kicking their son to death, she couldn’t help but rush up and clutch Father Su’s legs, sobbing, “For the better or worse, he’s still your child. Are you really going to kick him to death?!”
“I don’t have such a son! What he did even made his grandmother die! And he still has the shame to continue living?!” Father Su roared angrily.
“Kick me to death then!” Mother Su said crying, “I’ll take his place and pay for his grandmother’s life!”
“It’s all because you spoiled him! Even now, you’re still trying to protect him. I said to not let him study arts and for him to study finance, but you insisted on letting him have his way!” Father Su pushed Mother Su aside, his face red with anger, “If he really had the ability, being a famous painter’s fine. However, he didn’t have the talent and even plagiarized other people’s works, using such underhanded tricks to become famous. How can our family face people now? How can I continue working? Now, we’d might as well just wait until we’re bankrupt!”
Su Mo laid on the floor, motionless, not even trying to cower from his father’s next kick. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to move, or that he wasn’t thinking, but because it was just too painful. It felt like his bones were about to break, and even just twitching made the pain worse.
Mother Su couldn’t stop Father Su from kicking Su Mo, but she couldn’t just watch Father Su beat their son to death. She could only use her body to protect their son, not letting go even under Father Su’s enraged kicks.
After Father Su was done beating and scolding Mother Su, he fell on the floor. Their whole family was in the hospital. Mother Su could only call their eldest son, who was currently abroad, to come back and take charge.