A Swedish artist has been accused of desecrating the bodies of Jewish Holocaust victims after it emerged that he used ashes taken from the crematoria at Majdanek concentration camp to paint a picture, the British Telegraph reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, the artist, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, mixed the ashes from the infamous Nazi facility with water to compose a small painting of grey streaks. The work now hangs in a gallery in the Swedish city of Lund.
Salomon Schulman, a leading voice in Sweden's Jewish community who lost many relatives to the Holocaust, has condemned the painting as "revolting".
"Who knows," he wrote in a letter to a local newspaper quoted by the Telegraph. "Maybe some of the ashes originated from my relatives. No one knows where they were deported: all my mother's siblings and their children, and my grandparents.
"I will never go to this gallery and it as view the desecration of Jewish bodies," he added. "I am sickened by his work and obsession with necrophilia."
Von Hausswolff took the ashes during a 1989 visit to Majdanek, according to the Telegraph. During its 34 months in operation from 1941 to 1944, the camp claimed around 79,000 lives, the vast majority of them Polish Jews.
The artist said the ashes appeared to "contain the memories and the souls of people: people tormented and murdered by other people in the most viscous war of the 20th Century.”
Despite the scandal surrounding the painting, Martin Bryder, the owner of the Lund gallery, defended the decision to exhibit the work of art.
"Please come to the gallery, see the painting and judge for yourselves whether it's controversial," he said in an interview with the Polish News Agency.
"Schulman has already declared in the papers that he won't come and see it but if he did, perhaps he would have a different opinion,” said Bryder.