The work now hangs in a gallery in the Swedish city of Lund. (Martin Bryder Gallery)
Carl Michael von Hausswolff's artwork hangs in a gallery in the Swedish city of Lund. (Martin Bryder Gallery)

A Swedish artist who caused outrage by claiming that one of his paintings was made from ashes he took from a Nazi concentration camp has been reported to the police.

Carl Michael von Hausswolff claimed his work, exhibited at the Martin Bryder Gallery in the Swedish city of Lund, contained ashes he took from the Majdanek concentration camp in Poland during a visit in 1989.

The camp, now a museum, called the theft and the subsequent artwork by Hausswolff as "unimaginably barbaric act".

Hausswolff has been reported to the police for breaking a Swedish law that protects the peace of the dead, known as brott mot griftesfriden, according to Swedish news website The Local.

The artist mixed the ashes with water to create a charcoal effect on acrylic paper, he said.

In an article to go with the painting, he said he had only just decided to use the ashes now as the material was "too heavily loaded with the atrocities that had taken place at the site".

Critics were quick condemn the piece by Hausswolff, who was once described as "dour and funny" by the New York Times, and has represented Sweden at the Venice Biennale.

Salomon Schulman, a leading voice in Sweden's Jewish community, described the work as "repulsive in the extreme".

Writing in the Sydsvenskan newspaper, Schuklman said: "Who knows, some of the ashes might come from some of my relatives."

Artistic provocation

The Majdanek museum said: "We are deeply shocked and outraged by the information that the painting allegedly was made with the ashes of Majdanek victims.

"This action is an artistic provocation deserving only to be condemned."

Gallery owner Martin Bryder defended his decision to exibit the work.

He told the Polish News Agency: "Come to the gallery, see the painting and judge for yourselves whether it's controversial.

"Mr 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.

An estimated 80,000 people were murdered by the Nazis in Majdanek, three-quarters of them Polish Jews, from 1941 to 1944.