The painting is beautiful. Vibrant swirls of deep blues, greens, and yellows pull me into its center.

It’s massive, eight feet by ten, and I am incredibly dwarfed by it. Everything about it is bold and complex. I begin to feel a little suffocated in its imposing presence. It holds such depth, such emotion, that it is almost three-dimensional, a gateway to a strangely abstract world of color. I’ve never seen anything like it. My eyes drift to the lower right corner, and I notice there is no signature on the painting. There doesn’t need to be, I realize, not for Konstantin Hahn’s work. The whole piece is a signature, a human being on canvas. A name is a trivial thing compared to someone’s whole identity. Forgetting where I am for a moment, I reach out a hand and gently touch the painting. The raised ridges of paint make my fingertips tingle. “Hey!” A security guard jogs over to me and I jerk my hand away. “Don’t touch that, please.” “Sorry,” I reply, though I am not really very sorry. He gives me a curt nod and stalks off. I sigh, turning my gaze back to the painting. Will my own artwork ever be this communicative, I wonder? Maybe it’s not that it’s communicative, I think. Maybe I’m just an emotional person. A sharp ring punctures the quiet murmur of the gallery. I hurriedly fish my cell phone out of my pocket, feeling irritated glares boring into my back. “What is it, Karen?” I hiss. “I’m at the gallery.” “I know you are!” my sister laughs. “Have you seen anything interesting? I wish I could be there, more than anything.” “Interesting,” I repeat quietly, staring at the painting in front of me. “Actually, I have.” I proceed to tell her about the artist Konstantin Hahn, and the wonderful artwork hanging before me on the wall. “Sounds incredible,” Karen said after I’d finished. “He is,” I agree. She sighs on the other end of the phone. “I wish I was there so bad. But not everyone can afford to fly out to New York, you know. I’ll let you go now, Jon. Have fun!” The phone clicks, and she’s hung up. “You really like this guy,” comes a voice from beside me.

“Huh?” I blink. “Oh, yeah.” Next to me stands a small, unobtrusive man with long, dark hair pulled loosely into a decidedly artsy bun. He’s young, probably at least a good eight years younger than me. If I had to guess I’d say around twenty. He gives me a sidelong glance and the tiniest of smiles. The expression in his brown-green eyes is hard to read. “I think you give him a little too much credit,” the man said. “He doesn’t put much thought into his work.” I frown, feeling a stirring of defensiveness. “How would you know that?” He turns to face me, tapping his nametag with a wry smile. Konstantin Hahn. Oh. “I guess…you would know, then,” I choke, dumbfounded. He grins broadly. “Right you are.” The realization that I am talking to Konstantin Hahn slams into me, and I struggle to form a coherent sentence in front of the man. “I – I love your work,” I sputter. His smile fades. “I heard you talking about it on the phone. It’s very nice of you,” he says. “And what did you mean before, about not putting thought into your art? I think it’s beautiful,” I say, reverently gazing back at the painting. He shrugs. “I don’t think about it. I don’t think about anything, really.” His eyes have a faraway look to them, and I get the feeling that he’s staring past me, not at me. “Then…how do you do it?” I ask, nodding towards the painting. “With paint,” he deadpans, his face stony. Then he cracks a smile. “I guess it’s not quite that simple, but I honestly couldn’t tell you much more than that. Art is something that just happens to you. You don’t take art classes to improve your art, you do it so that you’re better at using your medium. If you don’t see the art that happens to you, it doesn’t matter how good you are at doing whatever it is you do. I’m not an emotional person,” he continues. “There isn’t really anything I care about, to be honest. I don’t feel…much at all.” His sentence trails off at the end, and he looks curiously up at me. My mind whirls. What do I say to that? “Art happens to you,” I repeat, smiling, tasting the words. I like the concept. “What if art never happens to me?”

Konstantin smiles again. “That’s what’s great about art,” he says. “Everything that happens to you is art. You just have to see it.”

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