Three Oncologists (2001)

Three Oncologists by Ken Currie is an oil on canvas, painted in 2001 and exhibited at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. When this it was commissioned, Professor Robert Steele (left), Professor Sir Alfred Cuschieri (centre) and Professor Sir David Lane (right) were members of the Department of Surgery and Molecular Oncology at Ninewells Hospital and Medical School in Dundee.

The artist spent many hours observing the surgeons in the operating theatre. His interaction with them enabled him to communicate a strong sense of the seriousness and dramatic intensity of their work in this darkly ambivalent painting. Currie has said: "When I had a brief discussion with Sir David Lane about the nature of cancer, he said that people saw cancer as a kind of darkness and their job is to go in there and retrieve people from it, from the darkness as it were. Every picture has this key, you're just looking for that thing that will unlock the image, and that phrase was enough to unlock the thing for me.”

The three doctors are depicted in a rather etheral, ghostly light, perhaps suggesting the battle between life and death which a cancerous diagnosis is likely to warrant. 1 in 2 citizens of the United Kingdom will contract cancer, yet few of us are prepared for eternity. Surgeons and doctors may delay the inevitable, but each one of us condemned to die, sooner or later.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? John 11:25-26 KJV