As part of the Brown Bears diptych for my luxury china plate series “In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia”, ‘Mummy Bear and Baby Bear’ highlights the practice of den hunting in Russia where hibernating adult bears are woken by dogs and shot as they emerge from their den, resulting in the orphaning of cubs if the female bear has produced a litter. Using Anselm Kiefer’s painting, ‘Parsifal III’, 1973 as the underlying layer of the drawing, this piece depicts not only the physical painted elements of Kiefer’s dark den like attic but also Kiefer’s symbolism, his bold challenges on recent history and the fact that Kiefer’s attic represents the origin of time. This signifies for me age-old relationships between man and animals, both good and evil.
Kiefer’s portrayal of the ‘Parsifal Saga’ and Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’ Opera include the symbolic ‘holy spear’ which in this drawing penetrates the cub’s neck creating Jung’s ‘Amfortas Wound’, the wound that never heals. The representation of the ‘Amfortas Wound’ not only suggests that man historically as a species continues to repeat controversial behaviour despite knowledge of its consequences, but also implies the pain of ‘loss’ that never completely heals. In the centre of the piece are a mother bear and her cub, a drawing montage of Viktor Koretsky’s 1942 WWII propaganda poster “Red Army Soldiers, Save Us!”. The drawing parallels not only the interpretation of the fairy tale ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ which moralises key needs for both humans and bears such as food, safety and shelter but also asks “where’s Daddy bear?”, is he also a victim of den hunting? The gun thrust into the faces of Mummy bear and Baby Bear is a WWII Russian PPSH41 Sub Machine gun replacing the German bayonet in Koretsky’s original poster suggesting ‘Friendly Fire’ on Brown Bears as it is Russian business deals that continue the practice of den hunting and result in the hunting of Russia’s national symbol.
Sadly the original black Biro drawing was damaged but thankfully not before the image in its original form reached THE NEW ENGLISH to be made into plates. This plate and the the beautiful luxury prints made by Jack Lowe Studio are therefore very special to me on a personal level.
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The cowardly practice of shooting bears near their den, from a safe hide, is very depressing. The fact that this still goes on, by way of ‘corporate entertainment’ is tragic.
Great detail as always Jane. The PPSH-41 is instantly recognisable, and the face of the baby bear is incredibly touching.
Best wishes from Norfolk. Pete.
Thank you as always Pete, so pleased to hear the piece has been understood and has moved you. It’s very tragic and something I felt needed highlighting. Your comments are greatly appreciated. Best wishes from up North! Jane
Enlightening — to say the least — to read the background on this beautiful image.
Of course, although we didn’t know it at the time, I’m so glad to have played my part in our own little salvation — digitally archiving this piece for your present and future fans to enjoy.
Thank you Jack for your kind words. I’m so grateful for the wonderful job you did scanning the work. I think the wee bears affected me most out of all the drawings in the series as I had to view a lot of harrowing images and text in order to try and strike a balance I hope, of poignant dignity, so this piece means a lot to me. I’m so pleased I have your scans. Many thanks as always. Best wishes, Jane