Alina Szapocznikow’s sculptures directly reflect her personal experience, particularly of the war, ghetto and illness. Her work abounds in fragmented, deformed bodies and organic casts of the artist’s body parts. Her pieces were created in series, such as Bellies and Tumours. Szapocznikow developed her own formal language, immensely sensual and at the same time saturated with the sadness of transience, which reflected the changes that occurred in her body. Exhumed is one of the artist’s few works addressing political events, understood also as a reckoning with the Stalinist era. It is a homage to László Rajk, the Hungarian activist murdered in 1949 and rehabilitated during the political thaw in Hungary. The sculpture portrays a tormented and deformed body that bears resemblance to casts of human remains petrified after the volcano eruption in Pompeii.
Alina Szapocznikow (b. 1926 in Kalisz, d. 1973 in Paris) – Polish sculptor. She studied in Prague and Paris after the war. Her life was marked by tragic events: Szapocznikow grew up in ghettos and concentration camps, and was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1969, which led to her death four years later. An individualist and experimenter, her early works emanated the spirit of Socialist Realism. After the political thaw she began using new sculptural materials, such as synthetic resin and polyester, in search of new forms of expression. In 1963, Szapocznikow left permanently for Paris, where she worked until the end of her life, creatively processing the experience of the illness that consumed her body.