"Face it": Abstract portraits exploring mental illness and stigmatisation

Susanne Wawra exhibited her abstract portrait series "Face it" from 7-9th July at Avenue Road Gallery as part of the 10 Days in Dublin festival.

 

Susanne's abstract portraits show patients in a Dublin mental health institution. Abstraction was a way for mental health sufferers in a psychiatric ward to show their faces yet remain anonymous. Granting them privacy, their stories would go into the paintings and express something of their struggle. Hidden behind a web of lines and shapes Susanne could attempt to portray the pain, troubles and sense of crisis that was often written on the patients' faces. The emphasis on maintaining the anonymity of people with mental health issues highlights how social stigmatisation plays a huge part in our way dealing with mental health. People find it hard to talk about and there is this fear of social pressure or being judged.

 

 

 

The exhibition showed works on paper and canvas that reach from ornamental structures and patterns to extensively coloured masks and reflect the struggle of the individual with personal identity.