Artist gives human anatomy a colourful makeover
Arts and Medicine

Artist gives human anatomy a colourful makeover

Trinley Dorje

Physiotherapy Department, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada

Correspondence to: Trinley Dorje. Physiotherapy Department, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada. Email:

Submitted Sep 29, 2018. Accepted for publication Oct 09, 2018.

doi: 10.21037/cdt.2018.10.08

We live in a society which is saturated in ideals of beauty, unrealistic body images, sexist, racist and gendered physical standards. Television, advertisements and social media add fire to this storm of superficial beauty. It is a narrow and unrealistic view of the human form which often fosters discrimination and oppression. This false reality of perceived physical perfection is largely unattainable by most and may have detrimental physical and mental effects on those seeking to attain it.

Trinley Dorje’s creative process stems from a desire to even the playing field by bringing our internal biological world to the forefront. In depicting solely our inner components in her art, the prejudices and stereotypes that are so commonly associated with external traits can be transcended. In removing the skin of the human body, she erases any exterior level physical differences and allows the viewer of her art to focus on the multifaceted layers of the human body. To view the human form for what it truly is, human, nothing more.

Her artistic interpretation of anatomy merges surrealism with medical illustration to create unique renderings of anatomy. She encourages the viewer of her art to strip away societal biases and to openly negotiate the emotional and gendered meanings of the human body. She hopes her art will promote interest in the medical sciences and encourage discussion around racial, gender, and sexual biases and the importance of equality for all.

In Figures 1,2, Dorje combines anatomy with a nebulous design.

Figure 1 “We Are Stardust 1.0”, digital monoprint on metallic paper, face-mounted to acrylic panel, 46 cm W × 61 cm H; inspired by my work with the cardiovascular (CV) surgery population and my interest in the impact long-term space habitation may have on our CV health. It depicts thoracic anatomy with a cosmic perspective. The following questions are the foundation of this artwork: (I) how will human biology adapt to spaceflight? (II) Which fundamental ways do human biological systems use gravity to regulate and sustain their growth, metabolize, develop and how will these systems adapt/evolve in a microgravity environment? (III) How will these systems repair damage and protect themselves from infection and disease? For astronauts’ CV health, there are several reasons why stressors that impact CV health on Earth, will be amplified in space, these include: (I) changes in gravitational forces; (II) changes in arterial blood pressure; (III) alterations in physical activity patterns; (IV) social/mental health factors associated with confinement and isolation. These unique alterations to the daily living of astronauts, may further impact the structural and functional properties of the vascular system leading to poor cardiovascular health.
Figure 2 “Eridanus”, digital monoprint on metallic paper, face-mounted to acrylic panel, 41 cm W × 61 cm H; based on the constellation Eridanus which is known as the celestial river in Greek mythology. Gods and goddesses ruling the heavens.

In Figures 3,4,5, Dorje blurs the lines of anatomy by combining a surrealistic design with a vibrant colour palette.

Figure 3 “The Warmth of Attraction & The Agony of Loss”, archival pigment print, 30.5 cm W × 41 cm H. Thoracic anatomy. The dichotomy of emotions and sensations you feel in your chest when you feel love or loss. Fire and warmth vs. ice and cold.
Figure 4 “Fractal Anatomy 6.0”, digital monoprint on metallic paper, face-mounted to acrylic panel, 51 cm W × 63.5 cm H. Part of a series of artwork depicting various human anatomy with a very bright and colourful palette. Fractal anatomy 6.0 shows PA view of the head and upper torso.
Figure 5 “Fragmentary Repair”, digital monoprint on metallic paper, face-mounted to acrylic panel, 30.5 cm W × 41 cm H. Bilateral iliac stents camouflaged within a colourful and surreal landscape.

About the artist

Trinley Dorje’s fascination with anatomy started at a very young age. She studied anatomy intensively and has developed a strong foundation in gross and skeletal anatomy, morphology, development, human disease, trauma and taphonomy. She currently works in the CV surgery and left-ventricular assist device (LVAD) programs at Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, Toronto General Hospital, part of the University Health Network. Her career provides her with the opportunity to view the human body through various medical imaging technologies, which provide ample inspiration for her art. Her art extends beyond a scientific passion and moves towards a sociological approach to the human race.

Dorje is a self-taught artist who creates original artwork through a combination of traditional sketching, mixed media and digital painting methods. The physical end-product of her digital painting work is almost always a single hard-copy image displayed on a non-traditional medium including; back-lit film, metallic paper or chromaroll paper, which is then displayed either in a back-lit lightbox, mounted to a metal panel or face-mounted to an acrylic panel. These digital artworks are individually produced and signed in a single physical edition and are in all respects unique. The artist refers to these specific works as digital monoprints.

Trinley Dorje has exhibited her work in Canada, the USA and Ireland. Her art has been published in magazines, online blogs and a book cover.

For more information about Dorje’s art, please visit and Instagram/Twitter @tdorjeart.




Conflicts of Interest: The author has no conflicts of interest to declare.

Cite this article as: Dorje T. Artist gives human anatomy a colourful makeover. Cardiovasc Diagn Ther 2019;9(1):112-114. doi: 10.21037/cdt.2018.10.08