An exhibition of contemporary art to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer is a surprising hit in Lausanne. Filling the Espace Arlaud at the centre of Lausanne, the airy exhibition speaks louder than words. 45 artists present works that engage one way or another in the theme, some made especially for the show.
The art on display could easily have been maudlin, depressing or voyeuristic. Instead, it celebrates the beauty of womanhood, without hiding the suffering that sometimes, unjustly, comes with it. Considering that breast cancer, worldwide, is the most common invasive cancer in women and that it affects up to one in eight women, the event is a timely collaboration between two worlds seemingly so far apart.
Initiated in 2006, this is the third edition of “Seins à Dessein”, a play on words that was devised by the woman to whom the exhibition is dedicated. Dessein means by design, but is also pronounced like dessin, a drawing.
Francine Delacrétaz died of breast cancer at the age of 39, a few weeks after the first edition of the exhibition that she inspired. To perpetrate her memory, Dr. Marie-Christine Gailloud-Matthieu, a highly respected plastic surgeon and lover of art, leads a tireless campaign. With the support of dedicated acolytes, the Francine Delacrétaz foundation has assisted countless women and their families face the often devastating consequences of the disease.
“Since the female body has given art some of its greatest masterpieces, and produced great artists, to ask for help when the muses are wounded seems only right.” Francine Delacrétaz
Some of Switzerland’s young art stars like Sandrine Pelletier, Claudia Comte and Denis Savary are displayed alongside international celebrities Francine Simonin or Silvia Bächli. In a touching display of solidarity, almost as many male as female artists have contributed to the 2015 edition, occasionally with an even greater sense of poetry.
Four small drawings by Jérôme Hentsch of the little matchstick girl are alive with tenderness. Hentsch, who trained as a psychiatrist, says he uses art to “reflect”, as in a mirror. Gilles Furtwängler has chosen standard bearers to carry soft satin pillows (remind you of anything?) with enigmatic inscriptions.
Zaric, a sculptor whose instantly identifiable figures adorn human bodies with animal heads, brings a note of lonely playfulness to the display.
The young artist Maya Rochat makes a stunning contribution with a video that is sensorial and intellectually mesmerizing, worth every 20 minutes of its entire length.
For an engaging panorama of Swiss contemporary art with a local flavor, Seins à Dessein runs until 8 November. All works are for sale, a marvelous opportunity to acquire exciting new art at reasonable prices and, at the same time, do a good turn.