art and cancer,maess

Abnormal Results – solo show

Wednesday 16 September, 7:00 pm – Thursday 15 October 

Platan Gallery, 1061 Budapest, Andrássy út. 32
curator: Tomasz Piars

Opening speech by Zsikla Mónika art historian


Bright crimson explosions, reminiscent of blood, draw us in and make us nervous, reminding the viewer of the fear of pain, disease, and death. Nothing is literal, clear, or straightforward in the dozens and dozens of drawings that make up Maess’s  “Abnormal Results” cycle. Yet, the artist provides the clues right in the titles of the works themselves: “Hemorrhage”, “Hemoptysis”, and “Drop in Red Blood Cells”. One of the drawings is titled “Beautiful Are Afoot” (Kroją mi się piękne sprawy), an allusion to the works of Polish sculptor Alina Szapocznikow, who survived the Holocaust to produce startling casts using her own body parts. In 1968, Szapocznikow was diagnosed with cancer and soon her creative output began to include themes of this disease. Today, images of cancerous cells and tissues photographed with the help of an electron microscope are easily available on the internet, but such images were not available to Szapocznikow nearly 50 years ago. She focused her attention on what was visible on the surface of a body, her body, racked with disease.

Thanks to advances in technology and the Internet?s accessibility to information, Maess explores cancer’s mysterious, fascinating depths. For the past two years, Maess has been familiarizing herself with medical documentation and using this knowledge as part of her creative process. With the help of medical imaging, databases, 3D modeling software, aquarel paint, pens and markers, she manipulates the abstract idea of cancer and forces it to exist in the world of art and to comply with rules that she herself imposes.

Maess provides a key to her work, but these drawings give the viewer room for interpretation. The intricacy of the drawings keeps them fresh upon repeated viewings. The lines intertwine with each other and with blots of color to tell the story of the hostile, disturbing, hidden worlds that lurk inside our bodies, yet are forced into beauty by the artist.