« Patrick, 53, HIV+”, blood on canvas, 80 x 100 cm, 2018. #daveschweitzer #dasc #artgram #contemporarypainting #artblog #artmagazine #artbuyers #artlover #artlovers #curator #contemporaryart #abstractart #artreview #conceptual #abstractexpressionism #abstraction #gestural #minimalism #artfair #artcollection #artcollector #artgallery #conceptual #exhibition #modernart #abstractpainting #artscene #hiv #aids
In 2001, Belgian/French artist DAve SChweitzer, a/k/a DASC, (°1972) held an exhibition called “POSITIVE”. It consisted of a series of paintings made with the blood of HIV positive donors.(*) Fifteen paintings were made, each with the blood of another donor. Fourteen of them with HIV+ blood, and one with his own, negative, uncontaminated blood.
The message was: “Can you tell the difference?” Of course not, so don’t treat people with HIV or aids any differently, don’t stigmatize.
The participants, the public and the media loved the project, because it made people talk about the disease in another way. It was not just about numbers, but real people with real lives. Stained blood made into something beautiful as art. (*) DAve SChweitzer describes his work as “inner portraits”: an abstract way to portray the reality not visible to the naked eye. Like a sponge, he absorbs the essence of the people he meets. During the creation of their abstract portraits, this sponge is squeezed to give birth to compositions that do not pretend to depict the outside, but the inside: the true reality. He told his donors: “If I were a blind painter and wanted to paint your portrait, you would have to let me touch your face. Now, I want to paint the inside of you, so tell me who you are and let me in.” On a technical level, to make the POSITIVE paintings, he applied the blood with a syringe directly onto the linen canvas.
Over the years, people have been asking repeatedly if he would ever make a second series. The answer is yes. Because even in 2018, HIV and aids are still a taboo, and the number of contaminations in the LGBTI community is rising. And a large number of people don’t even have access to medicine. So it is very much a topic today.