Faux Art by Dominic Plascencia

The clinking of a champagne glass filled a minimalist room with little to no color except eggshell white for all the furniture. From the 70s deco chair full of ovals to the thin legged chairs surrounding a white marble table, it gave the essence of ‘filthy rich’. It was a marvelous square room, with hardwood oak floors as well as a rooftop view over the New York limelight. In the middle of it all stood a man, who was cockiness and snarkiness itself. He held himself to a high degree, and would only wear clothes if it was made by a brand that was a full name. Yet, despite all this, his clothes looked to be out of a thrift store or out of the side of a ditch, ratted with holes that made his wallet lighter by about $1500. As he stood there he seemed to be thinking to himself his hand to his chin, seemingly bobbing back and forth.

After a while he finally raised his eyes, and walked to a spiral staircase which connected to a wall. Getting to the top of the half floor, he was now in a section of the house that was full of an arrangement of raw materials over a myriad of countertops and shelves. There were arrangements all over the balcony overlooking the main room, from statues made of aluminum foil to paintings with nothing but a splash of paint in the middle. Finally, in front of a canvas the man grabbed a beige bucket and muttered something to himself along the lines of “This should be good enough”. He suddenly splashed the bucket on the canvas, let it drip off, called it a day. As he made his way back to the living room, he was trying to think of something deep to name the artwork, something along the lines of ‘the restlessness of man’ or ‘the creation of the universe’. Eventually he gave up, and went to go make a sandwich.

If no one suspected anything, the dripping canvas would sell for about 80,000.

The next day, the studio sold all of the pieces for enough money to buy a small island. Yet, one work of art remained under a canvas tucked away into the corner of the room. The nameless artist walked into the bright studio with his wallet much heavier. He made his way to the strangely shaped tarp and pulled back on it revealing a marvel carved nude of an elegant woman. The statue’s face was brilliant as it was beautiful. Everything from the shoulder length hair with each strand able to be perceived from the haircut, to the balance of the pose she struck revealed both a sense of elegance and a sense of vanity, as its open hands reached gracefully into the air as if being given a gift. She was cold to the touch and as smooth as silk. Of course, the multimedia worker did not carve this, he bought it overseas for an insanely cheap price. As long as he changed it up a bit he knew that he wouldn’t have to worry about money for a long, long time.

While standing in his imposter studio, he wondered for quite a long time what he would do. Maybe he would put a party hat and a couple of streamers on the feet of the statue and make it mean something about changing times? No, he thought that was lame. Maybe he would put makeup on it and have it represent lust? No, he knew no one was stupid enough to fall for that. As he pondered so restlessly, he noticed something somewhat strange about his statue. As it stood above him on a blank pedestal, he looked up to see her head staring down to the floor, when he could have sworn she was looking up before. Maybe it was the heavy drinking from this morning’s casual mixer he went to, but he knew what he saw earlier.

He left the studio to get a step ladder from the other room. As he walked back, he took a glance towards the serene beauty and did a double take. Once again, she was looking up to the heavens as if conversing with a god.

“What the hell?” he said to himself, both alarmed and somewhat anxious.

He didn’t know what to think, other than ‘they must have had some good ass liquor at the mixer’. With the confusion taking over, he didn’t think of anything he could do to make the statue truly his. As the day turned to night, then to morning, he got ready for an art exhibition he was showcasing at a nearby museum full of contemporary artists. Right before heading out the door, he did a quick sweep of the house just to make sure nothing was out of the ordinary. ‘After all, statues were moving around’ he thought to himself. Just thinking of that was a real kicker to him, as he took a quick chuckle under his booze-ridden breath. That was, till he got to the statue.

As he walked in, he didn’t know what he was staring at. The goddess was twisted towards the stairs, and she was pointing directly at him. Her serene beauty morphed into an animosity directed at the fake artist. Her face showed this well, twisted into a screaming banshee with eyes that pierced his heart. He had a quick half-second of confusion, then it all went away as if it leaked out from his body and was replaced with a heavy overwhelming dread. There was something preventing him from screaming, and all that came out was a small stream of air. He made eye contact with her for a long time, maybe far too long instead of doing the obvious and running. Finally, he stumbled down the stairs in a panic and fell to the floor. He looked up back to the stairs, and nothing. His eyes darted everywhere as flew straight to the door. He swung it open to get away as fast as possible. He didn’t know what to think, was he losing his mind or was the statue actually moving? Does this mean he knew what he saw before? If so, then why is it moving? A million questions raced through his mind as he wandered through the complex and out the door into the streets of Manhattan. He sat down on a curb outside of a deli, the smell of pig meat and salami filling his nostrils. Looming clouds rolled over and shrouded the city in a dark shadow, a faint boom could be heard in the distance. He kept running his hands through his long brown hair, something he’s done whenever he was stressed or panicked ever since he was a kid. He felt his hands shaking and his palms unable to rotate as they were full of adrenaline. All the while, hundreds of clueless individuals walked past him, indifferent to the man who may or may not have pissed himself. Minutes passed into hours revealing a bright moon as he sat outside that deli, having a long panic attack trying to regain his breath. His nostrils leaked mucus, and his breath would never be quite replenished with every short gasp.

After a long time of hesitation and strange smells, he decided to go back into the building and confirm that he was wrong and all of this was a hallucination and that he was just seeing things. He walked back into the lobby of the tower which felt more like a gothic castle than a romanticized Luxor apartment. He passed the receptionist only looking down at the repeating carpet pattern of hexagons in fear of seeing more things that will harm his view of reality, and got straight into the elevator to his floor. With every passing second, he felt his heartbeat getting louder and louder until he got to his floor. Cautiously he made his way to his door, and slowly creaked it open. ‘There’s no way’ he thought to himself. This must be a bad dream or at the very least a bad trip, even if he hasn’t touched his stash recently. Wandering the now dark living room made him never realize how empty the space is, and more the while how soul-crushing it is.

With each heavy foot, he trudged while the light from the moon leaked into the windows, all the while the storm had caught up to him. Finally making way into the studio, he saw the worst-case scenario; the statue was gone. A deep sensation of panic sunk into his stomach. Is this retribution for everything he’s lied about? Is he going mad? All of the impossibilities of the situation were eating at his mind, and soon enough, he snapped.

“You wanna play games? Let’s play some fuckin games!” The madman yelled into the empty room. He grabbed a nearby glass-blown vase and cracked it over the counter, giving him a quick weapon. Everything was eating at him, every creak sent him over the edge. He took a deep breath, and when the wind felt a little different behind him he turned around and stabbed something that pushed back until the blade broke the surface. A warm liquid had hit him in the face, and a gurgle broke the silence. He snapped back to realize that the thing he thrust at was a man in a well-dressed suit, who had a name tag that was covered in a red liquid. While he took his final breath as the wound revealing a section of the heart stained his $4000 Louis Vuitton suit, he said “Why weren’t you at the exhibit?”. The dying man let the weight of his head get to him, and sunk into the floor. The blood splattered on a nearby painting, increasing the price 10-fold.

The artist didn’t know what to think, other than what the fuck. So many thoughts filled his head and he couldn’t pinpoint a single one. He stood there quite a while forgetting a statue was hunting him. He concluded on one thought; run. So that’s what he did, he ran and ran until he couldn’t.

‘This is a foolproof plan, I’ll run and lay low for a while. I’ve always gotten away with the most insane shit, so why not now?’

He was found 3 days later in a storm drain and taken into custody for the murder. The man’s lawyer told him to plead insanity. He was no longer well in the head talking about moving statues and killer sculptures. The judge decided it was best to sentence him to an asylum outside of the city of New York. As for all of his work, it became a thing of infamy in the art world. One specific statue that was thought to be the basis of his story was recently sold for a large sum of money. The engraving said a name on it; Don Quixote.