Chocolate, beer, and waffles are often the first three things that come to mind when thinking about Belgium. This May, however, the focus shifted towards a very different delicacy—ART. Set in the medieval city of Ghent, a very unique art exhibit entitled “Art by Surgeons” was all the rave. This event celebrated the creative and artistic talents of six surgeons from across the world. The exhibition debuted at the Ghent International Convention Center and was organized by Dr. Filip Muysoms (Belgium), the President of the 33rd International European Hernia Conference and a featured artist in the show. Of the six surgeon artists showcased, one was our very own Los Angeles native, Dr. Beemen N. Khalil, who was also the only representative from the United States in the show.
Dr. Khalil, 35, was born and raised in Los Angeles, and is currently a practicing laparoscopic (minimally invasive) and bariatric (weight-loss) surgeon at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Stanford University. He has always had a passion for the arts and feels his creative interests greatly complement his professional life as a Surgeon. “Surgery is itself a form of art, rendering every surgeon an artist in their own right” said Dr. Khalil. He went on to say, “The fine motor skills that I utilize to perform surgery in the operating room, lend and extend nicely to the methodical application of paint on canvas in the studio. Or perhaps it’s the other way around.” Dr. Khalil’s work included a featured acrylic painting, “Manhattanhenge”, along with six charcoal sketches of women’s fashion designs.
Manhattanhenge is a marvel that occurs twice a year where the sun aligns exactly with the East-West grid of the streets in Manhattan, New York. Dr. Khalil plans to continue this series with “Chicagohenge”, “Torontohenge”, and “Montrealhenge”, where a similar phenomenon naturally occurs. He also plans to begin an apprenticeship with a local tailor, with the goal of bringing his fashion designs to life.
Another featured artist, Dr. Muysoms, brings a little bit of the operating room to the canvas, literally. He uniquely affixes and arranges unused pieces of Gore Dual Mesh (a mesh used in hernia repair) on Canvas. The mesh oxidizes to various shades of a rust color in room air. His piece entitled “A Glimps at the Future” was purchased by Gore Medical, with the proceeds being donated to Operation Hernia, a foundation devoted to extending the long arm of hernia repair to third world countries.
Dr. Steven de Gendt (Belgium), creates 3-dimensional art pieces by using paper mache and recyclable products like egg crates.The three other artists chosen for the exhibit were Dr. Salvador Morales Conde (Spain), photographer; Dr. Agneta Montgomery (Sweden), painter; and Dr., Maciej Smietanski (Poland), who hand makes artsy one of a kind floor lamps.
The charmingly arranged event was a great success with a turnout of approximately 400 people opening night and several hundred people each night thereafter. Indeed it generated a great deal of buzz, but what would an art show in Belgium be without at least one of its famous exports: BEER! The beer that flowed aplenty was brewed specifically for the art show and the European Hernia Congress. The aptly named “Hernia Bier” was brewed by Brewery Sint Canarus from Gottem, a small but fine Belgian brewery indeed.
There are talks already underway for a similar exhibit in the near future in New York City so keep your eyes peeled and your ears clear of wax. From calling for a scalpel at the bedside to wielding paintbrushes and palettes at the easel-side, these modern day renaissance men and women are truly remarkable. In some cases, art truly imitates life…. or is it the other way around? To learn more about the work of Dr. Beemen Khalil (native Los Angeles Surgeon) please visit his soon to be completed website, Stitch & Suture.