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Iri's Work

by Alex Dally MacFarlane

Exhibit 1.a: The lines are a millimetre deep and three times as wide, and milky white compared to the pine-brown skin surrounding them. They line up like pale railings against a wall.

The placard underneath the image says that the woman painted is twenty-two.

Paper lanterns hung outside the gallery’s high windows, shedding patches of their colour -- blue and yellow, red and seaweed-green -- onto Turme’s white dress. She stood with her back to the lanterns, staring at the row of foot-wide paintings.

The pale lines matched so neatly those on her own thighs.

Exhibit 2.a: Look closely to see the lines, barely darker than the skin. Look closely to see how they cross the small breast, how they stretch between side and nipple.

The placard underneath says that the woman painted is nineteen.

Turme remembered the reviews: A gallery of that which is hidden away -- for good reason! and What next, will artists paint the deformed and claim to be showing beauty?

“These are beautiful paintings,” she said.

“There’s a trend among artists to conceal the marks left by natural growth,” the gallery’s owner replied. “Iri, the artist, feels that concealment is un-necessary.”

She wanted to raise a hand and run her fingers over the paintings. Would they dip like the marks on her thighs? The paint looked textured enough for it.

When had she last seen artwork so honest?

Exhibit 2.c: Dark lines curve over soft skin, like half-bracelets, on the side of the girl. They point to the small of her back. They point to the lowest part of her stomach.

“I’ve been to six galleries today,” Turme said, “and seen a lot of paintings of nudes with flawless skin like glass from the Suresh Quarter. The ones with blue and green hair were interesting, I suppose. This, however...” She looked along the wall, at arms and legs, breasts and stomachs, covered in pale and dark lines.

“Would you like to meet Iri?” the gallery’s owner asked.

“I suppose I should, as I intend to sponsor his work.”

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