Most guests at the opening of an exhibition in Whangārei didn't have the stomach for an astonishingly brutal statement made by artist Douglas Chowns on the night.

Chowns quipped that he doesn't have any stomach at all so didn't share the sensation evoked when he took a knife and made deep cuts in every canvas in his exhibition, 1994 Enduring of Suffering.

In fact, it was while he was in hospital and later in recovery for months after having his stomach removed 18 months ago that Chowns came up with the plan to make a ''social realist'' statement about his