Madrid exhibition shines a light on the scars of breast cancer

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Madrid exhibition shines a light on the scars of breast cancer
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An art exhibition in Madrid seeks to shine a spotlight on breast cancer and the physical and psychological scars left by mastectomies.

The exhibition at the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum of Art, titled “From the skin to the canvas: another take on breast cancer“, features digital copies of works by Francisco de Goya, Peter Paul Reubens and Hans Baldung Grien which have been altered to make it look like the nude subjects have undergone mastectomies.

“With this intervention we’re calling attention to the process of the illness,” said Juan Alberto Garcia de Cubas, president of the Fundacion Cultura en Vena (Culture in Your Veins Foundation), which organised the exhibition.

A man looks at a replica of Peter Paul Rubens’ “Venus and Cupid” showing a mastectomized breast (Source: REUTERS/Susana Vera)

As part of the show, Cultura en Vena filmed a video of Goya’s The Naked Maja being taken to a hospital in an ambulance, where the painting undergoes “surgery” as a team of artists paints a scar over her left breast. The work of art is then moved by ambulance to the museum and hung on the wall.

Gema Salas, a 44-year-old architect who underwent a mastectomy to treat breast cancer, said the exhibition had a profound effect on her.

Women who undergo mastecomies often have to learn how to love themselves and their bodies again, Salas said.

“For me the painting represents how after treatment, when you feel a bit lost, it’s like being reborn as a woman,” she said. “Having a scar does not mean that you are any less of a woman.”

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