In 1989-1990 I was in India on a Senior Fulbright and was in residence at MS University of Baroda, Delhi College of Art, and Kala Bhavana at
Visvabharati University. Along with my residencies, the United States
Information Agency (USIA) sponsored a lecture tour through the south and a
two-week workshop in Udaipur, Rajasthan. They also prepared an exhibit of my
work that toured various venues throughout India.
One such venue was in Calcutta at Galerie 88, at the time a fairly new gallery. I had taken the train from Santineketan, which is where Kala Bhavana is located, in order to be at the reception.
The gallery people had done an outstanding job of hanging the show and had prepared a typical opening ceremony complete with oil lamps, flower garlands, and invitation of the appropriate dignitaries.
The dignitary of dignitaries was Les Grande Dame of Calcutta culture, a 70-something woman who oozed importance when she entered the gallery
from her chauffeured Mercedes. Conversation volume dropped thirty decibels,
people moved away from the center of the floor to the outer edges of the space,
and there was enough bowing and folding of hands in the Namaste greeting that I
thought the Prime Minister of India had arrived. yes""> It seemed as though no one wanted to be responsible for
exhaling carbon dioxide anywhere near where she was taking in oxygen.
She and her small entourage of three walked around the show and glanced at things with relative disinterest. She finally found her way to
me and I greeted her and thanked her for coming. Her only comment to me was, “I can’t understand why you included that
horse with all your other pictures.”
I was taken back a bit. There was no greeting or welcome or thanks for showing your work or any such pleasantry.yes""> It was quite clear that I belonged to the peasantry.
Hmmm. What horse? There aren’t any horses here that I can see. So, I asked her in a polite way, which picture it was that she referred
to. She looked at me with disdain and said, “Why,
of course, the only one with a horse in it.”
Now I’m at a loss. The show has only figure drawings and landscapes; none of the landscapes included horses and the figures were human.
She moved on and left the gallery. Within a few minutes, one of the artists, a
guest at the opening, pulled me aside and showed me the horse.
Can you see the horse in this conté figure drawing?
Charles Stroh, Kalamazoo, MI