These stories are developed from the novels of The Trilogy of Remembrance [The Drawing Lesson, The Fate of Pryde and Night Crossing] and are designed to entice you into that world and read them. Alexander Wainwright, Britain’s finest landscape painter and visionary artist, is the star. Think of them as delightful appetizers. Enjoy and respond!
For one, such as I, who cannot help feeling for others, it is difficult to relate this terribly sad story. Whether it is sadder for me or Rinaldo, I cannot truly say. I know Rinaldo is a trouble maker par excellence!But I cannot help but sympathize with him. I realize this is a strange relationship with one’s nemesis. The next afternoon I took a water taxi to the Palazzo Grini for Rinaldo’s party.
On the way to the Palazzo Grini.
The boatman had some difficulty reading Rinaldo’s map, but at last I was at the landing. I could see the Palace Grini only a few yards from the dock. As I mentioned, I am always on guard when it comes to Rinaldo, not knowing what he may have up his sleeve at any given moment. When I rang a bell, the gate slowly swung open.
I could write paragraphs, even an entire book about what happened next, but I leave that sort of thing to my author [and creator], Mary E. Martin. Because, as a painter, my creativity is mostly visual, I have made this little video on the run which will tell you about the Palazzo Grini. I realize it is not art but rather rough documentary because I had to be as secretive and as furtive as a house breaker.
Rinaldo has also made a video which will tell you much about his character and—mine.
At the party, Rinaldo and I chatted amiably enough on the patio for some time—about nothing in particular. Then I glanced about. Suddenly, it struck me—the ballroom was still empty—very odd, indeed. I turned to my host. “Where are the other guests? Am I so very early?”
Rinaldo grinned and shook his head. “Really Alex! Where is your imagination? Don’t you see all the people here? Let me introduce you to Magritte and his friend Man Ray—such a superb photographer.” I frowned deeply as Rinaldo took me by the arm and ferried me across the entirely empty ballroom.
“Let me get you some wine first, Alex.” Rinaldo stood behind a bar where bottles of wine and elegant long stemmed glasses were set out. “White or red, my friend?”
John Constable, painter.
Breaking from me, he waved at some imagined person and called out, “Mr. Constable! I do admire your paintings. So glad you could come. Mr. Wainwright here loves to paint in your style which you perfected two hundred years ago.”
Stunned, I managed to mutter “White wine, thank you.”
Wine glasses in hand, we crossed the room again to stand in front of two portraits.
The Artist Magritte.
The Photographer Man Ray.
Without batting an eye, Rinaldo proceeded to introduce me to the pictures of both artists—in very flattering terms about them as great artists. I looked about the room. Normally, I pride myself on noticing many details in the phenomenal world. A representational painter must have this ability. Therefore, I cannot explain how I had not noticed the true appearance of the room until this moment. Or so it seemed to me, if only for an instant.
A very deserted ballroom.
It was not just empty. It was barren of all sign of any human habitation. Had Rinaldo mastered some powerful trick of the eye? Eyes closed, I faced in the opposite direction. When I turned back and opened my eyes, the room was still empty, but far from the desperately barren vision of moments ago.
Rinaldo realized my disorientation. He took my arm and led me to some seats in the corner. He said, “My friend. Would you like to see a little video I’ve made about art?” He waved his arm as if to encompass the entire room. “All the other famous artists are gathered here to see it! There’s Matisse and Picasso over there!”
My heart sank. There was no doubt! The man was completely and utterly mad! Or was he? It could well be just another ridiculous trick or, as he would claim, an intellectually challenging conceptual art project.
. “Listen,” I said. “We were going to discuss business today. Jamie has received an inquiry from Mark Savanti, owner of the Marco Polo Fashion House in South Beach, Florida.”
Rinaldo sucked in his cheeks. His eyes bulged. “Really? Mark admires my work? I never thought…”
“Yes. Savanti is interested in your concept work—five bowls of rotting fruit,” I continued.
Rinaldo smirked. “And you’ve come all this way to tell me that?” I nodded. “Please tell James Helmsworth that Mark Savanti and I have already concluded our business.”
“What? How could that be?”
Rinaldo gave an insouciant shrug. “Heaven knows, Alex. You have been sent on a wild goose chase!”
“By whom?” I nearly shouted. Rinaldo smirked Now it was beginning to dawn on me that Rinaldo had been the instigator of the entire trip just for his ridiculous project.
Then a whole camera crew, made up of six real people [or so I thought] entered the ballroom with video cameras and sound equipment. “My crew has been recording you ever since you first arrived in Venice even in your hotel room-—oh my, Alex!”
Then Rinaldo rubbed his brow in mock confusion. “Absolutely begging the clerk for help at the Carleton Hotel to find your bearings in the city—your woe-be-gone countenance as you looked down one calle after another for little old moi—your annoyance waiting for me at the Vivaldi Museum and Harry’s Bar. All in glowing techni-colour!”
Realizing I was on camera, I did my level best not to punch Rinaldo’s laughing face.
“It’s the best, Alex! You should thank me. We can make the greatest reality TV show out of this!” Suddenly he pointed to a doorway and said, “Look! Salvador Dali peeking around the corner. He is greatly amused.
Now I saw just how really stupid the whole trip had been and how naïve I had been. Nearly shaking with rage, I shouted, “You set this all up. There is no Mark Savanti wanting to buy anything.” I turned to go. “If this is your notion of art, I’m appalled! You have shown just how truly childish you are and that your so-called art is nothing more than playing stupid little games which only an idiot would think were clever!.”
Rinaldo broke into what only can be called a cackle. In fact, he bent double in paroxysms of glee. When he finally caught his breath, he said, “It will make a wonderful film, Alex. You have become an integral part of my artistic project—performance art of the conceptual variety.” Then he rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “You see, my friend, you would not cooperate in the Williamsburg Bridge project in New York and so we simply had to stage another one. It is a lovely concept—what one artist will do for another.”
Infuriated beyond speech, I marched to the door.
“But do stay, Alex. Before you leave, you must see the video.”
Before I could object, he dragged me back down beside him on the sofa. He clicked a remote. A screen dropped down and the video began. “It’s my artistic manifesto which I threw together at the very last minute,” he smirked.
When his insulting little show was over, I stared at Rinaldo but could find no words. I got up and walked the length of the ballroom to the door. Again, the room looked just as desolate and deserted as I felt. Rinaldo did not follow me.
Downstairs, I found the door to the landing where, fortunately, a water taxi awaited me. All the way back to the Carleton Hotel, I wondered why I had fallen for one of his idiotic schemes again. Alex, the good soldier—he always called me.
Back at the hotel, I phoned the airline and arranged for a flight back to London that night. You may well wonder why I do not despise Rinaldo…why I accept his overtures. After all, I have called him my nemesis—the one who works so hard to humiliate me at every turn.
I pondered that question on my flight. I strive to be a kind and compassionate man, but I may be flattering myself to think that’s why I try to keep an open mind about Rinaldo and his art. Perhaps it’s because I believe my nemesis has something to teach me. But what? Tolerance of idiots? What have I learned after all of this? Now I know what it is like to be in a conceptual art project and be toyed with by Rinaldo!
I hope my short story has intrigued you. Perhaps you might like to read more in The Drawing Lesson and The Fate of Pryde the first and second respectively in the Trilogy of Remembrance. Please watch for the third in the trilogy, Night Crossing, to be published in 2014.
If you’d like to find out what happened between me and Rinaldo on the Williamsburg Bridge in New York City you’ll have to read The Drawing Lesson and I hope you do.
This is the last installment in the short story Rinaldo’s Art Project. I hope you’ve liked it. So, please leave a comment if you’d like.
THE TRILOGY OF REMEMBRANCE
The Drawing Lesson
The Fate of Pryde
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