An exhibition in Madrid sheds light on breast cancer scars
A Madrid art display aims to draw attention to breast cancer and the psychological and physical scars left by mastectomies.
Digital reproductions of paintings by Francisco de Goya, Peter Paul Reubens, and Hans Baldung Grien that have been altered to make it appear as though the subjects are naked have undergone mastectomies are on display at the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum of Art as part of the exhibition “From the skin to the canvas: another take on breast cancer.”
According to Juan Alberto Garcia de Cubas, president of the Fundacion Cultura en Vena (Culture in Your Veins Foundation), which organised the show, “With this intervention we’re calling attention to the progression of the illness.”
As a part of the performance, Cultura en Vena captured a video of Goya’s The Naked Maja being transported to a hospital in an ambulance, where a group of artists perform “surgery” on the painting by covering her left breast with a scar. The artwork is subsequently transported by ambulance to the museum, where it is mounted on the wall.
The exhibition had a significant impact on architect Gema Salas, 44, who underwent a mastectomy to treat breast cancer. According to Salas, mastecomy victims frequently need to relearn how to appreciate their bodies and themselves.
According to her, the painting “represents how it’s like being reborn as a woman following therapy, when you feel a bit disoriented,” she said. “Having a scar does not detract from your femininity.”