Fighting my way past tour groups of over-perfumed seniors on my way to the gallery canteen, I spied an artwork that left an indelible mark on my poor uncultured brain.
A small group was clustered around an oversize painting, so I hazarded a glance. A single streak of brown, three drops of red and a slanting line of silver adorned the otherwise blank canvas. I simply couldn’t make sense of it. I appreciated the expense, but really, I’d seen better designs on fast-food wrappers.
“It’s brilliant,” breathed a man, lowering his wire-rimmed spectacles to examine it more intimately.
The young lady beside him – clutching her hand to her chest – nodded vigorously, silent in her awe.
“This artist, he speaks to me,” said another, his voice thick with emotion. “It’s as if he’s articulated my soul – the feelings that have clamoured to abscond.”
I tried to smother a giggle and coughed – an unfortunate sound as it turned out. The sea of gaunt, pale faces turned to me, eyes sparkling with fervour…or madness, I couldn’t quite tell.
I blurted the first thing that came into my head. “I feel the same,” I said.
The faces were hopeful. Trusting. “Uh, I mean to say – This piece is a story. Yes. A story.”
Smiles beamed at me, eyes became luminescent.
And then my brain stepped up to the plate. “A story of the thing my cat brought in last week, ate, then promptly threw up. The story of my difficulty removing the stain from the carpet. The story of my own desperate struggle trying not to be sick myself.”
The smiles disappeared. Frowns creased foreheads. Fists clenched. In the silence that followed, I thanked goodness there were no pitchforks in the immediate vicinity – but knowing the gallery, I couldn’t rule out the possibility so I made hasty exit to the gift shop – even bypassing the canteen.
The good news is, the gift shop didn’t harbour a single re-print of the artwork in question. And I didn’t get chased by an angry mob with torches and pitchforks.