Seins à Dessein

Maya Rochat presents startling video and photo compositions

Artists give generously to raise funds

Published by Time Out Switzerland on 20 September 2015: Link

A sale-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 the city, the airy exhibition speaks louder than words. 45 artists present works that engage 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. Swiss-based Luo Mingjun adds a note of evanescence with her figures that fade into the canvas, as if carried by our own nostalgia.

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 marvellous opportunity to acquire new art at reasonable prices and, at the same time, do a good turn.

Luo Mingjun, Il était une fois, 2012, oil on canvas, 190 x 240 cm, Courtesy Galerie Gisèle Linder

Luo Mingjun, Il était une fois, 2012, oil on canvas, 190 x 240 cm, Courtesy Galerie Gisèle Linder

Michèle Laird, née Haffner, trained as a journalist, became an international arts administrator (visual arts and theatre), successively in Paris, New York and London before moving to Switzerland, where she now covers the art beat and presides several associations.

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