The Orphans Brown Bears | In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia 2013 black Biro drawing
The second drawing of Brown Bears diptych from the In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia series, The Orphans is inspired by Ivan Shishkin’s painting Morning in a Pine Forest 1889, is one of Russia’s most popular paintings which depicts three bear cubs and their mother. All traces of the mother bear are removed from The Orphans drawing and an ethereal forest setting is created as their playground. Eerie creatures are formed from pine branch and foliage patterns inspired by the Rorschach Inkblot Test, and evoke the precarious world in which the cubs inhabit without their mother’s protection. A large bear cub balancing on the main branch looks across at a ghostly mirror image of itself. This indicates the legacy den hunting creates for young bears. On a another branch (far left) bear siblings play through the ghosts of previous orphans in the form of Shishkin’s painted bears. On the lower trunk is an image of the face of Wojtek, the Soldier Bear, an orphaned Syrian brown bear adopted by soldiers of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps in WWII. Wojtek accompanied the soldiers to war and was known to carry ammunition. After demobilisation Wotjek lived the remainder of his life in Edinburgh Zoo. Depicted on the tree trunk is the Polish regimental badge which portrayed Wojtek carrying artillery ammunition. In this drawing Wotjek further symbolises the vulnerability of cubs orphaned by human activity. Inability to fend for themselves often leads to death or incarceration and the loss of a natural life in the wild. The Orphan Bear Rescue Centre near Moscow rescues, rehabilitates and returns brown bear cubs to the wild. It has successfully released over 260 bears.