Swedish gallery pulls painting made of Holocaust victims’ ashes

(JTA) — A Swedish art gallery in Lund reportedly has cancelled the exhibition of a painting made of Holocaust victims’ ashes. 

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The gallery owner, Martin Bryder, is quoted as telling Sydsvenskan, a local newspaper, that he decided to pull the exhibition of a painting by Carl Michael von Hausswolff because of protests by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Jewish community of Malmo. The Simon Wiesenthal Center called the painting a “desecration” and “abomination.”

The artist told the newspaper he used ashes that he collected at Majdanek, a Nazi extermination camp in Poland, to paint a monochrome work, featuring vertical brushstrokes in a rectangle “representing the suffering of the victims.” 

It has been on display at the Martin Bryder Gallery in Lund since Nov. 10, and has prompted strong reactions from critics and members of the public. An official opening was planned for Dec. 15.

“I think pulling the exhibition was the right decision,” Dr. Shimon Samuels, Director of International Relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told JTA. “I would further insist the painting be returned to Majdanek for burial there.”

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