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PSYCHIATRIC PATIENTS SHOWCASE THEIR TALENTS

Art for mind's sake

THE LIFE histories of many famous artists show how thin the line between mental health and illness is. Vincent Van Gogh is probably the best example.
But works of art do not need to be the fruits of a crazy mind: They can be inspired as part of the healing process.
An exhibition of such art therapy by the League for Mental Health is currently on display at the Nezábudka (Forget-me-not) Gallery, which was officially opened on October 7, as part of Mental Health Week. The gallery is located at Ševčenkova 21, Bratislava.


CAN art heal the mind's wounds?
photo: Courtesy of Nezábudka Gallery

THE LIFE histories of many famous artists show how thin the line between mental health and illness is. Vincent Van Gogh is probably the best example.

But works of art do not need to be the fruits of a crazy mind: They can be inspired as part of the healing process.

An exhibition of such art therapy by the League for Mental Health is currently on display at the Nezábudka (Forget-me-not) Gallery, which was officially opened on October 7, as part of Mental Health Week. The gallery is located at Ševčenkova 21, Bratislava.

This showcase of talents is the result of a contest called Searching For a Talent, organised within the triennial Insita 2004 exhibition. During the competition, 160 artists from 61 psychiatric facilities across Slovakia submitted almost 800 entries.

"The works by psychiatric patients are naive works, not works by professional visual artists. But they are works with deep meaning and are full of ideas, as well as being artistically interesting," psychiatrist and League president, Peter Breier, told TA3 news TV channel.

"There are certain parallels between the expression of these untrained artists and professional painters, and I believe that those who visit this exhibition will be positively surprised," he added.

This was the first visual arts competition for people with mental health problems in Slovakia. Its organisers believe that it can help find world-class talents among psychically ill people.

"Quality of art does not depend on mental health, but on talent," pointed out the Insita exhibition curator Katarína Čierna.

The League for Mental Health plans to hold five exhibitions and one auction of patients' works every year. Its other plans include organising symposia for talented patients in the summer months.

The exhibition at the Nezábudka Gallery is open on weekdays between 10:00 and 18:00, until December. Works by the three winners of the competition are displayed at Pezinok's Gallery of Naive Art in Schaubmar's Mill, which is open between 10:00 and 17:00 at weekends, and on request during the week.

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