- Title: Juuso the bear makes artistic debut at Finnish gallery
- Date: 18th January 2017
- Summary: BEAR KISSING A MAN ON A POSTER
- Embargoed: 1st February 2017 01:01
- Keywords: bear Juuso painting gallery art
- Location: HELSINKI AND KUUSAMO, FINLAND
- City: HELSINKI AND KUUSAMO, FINLAND
- Country: Finland
- Topics: Arts/Culture/Entertainment
- Reuters ID: LVA0025ZLW3TL
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Artists usually like to attend the opening of their exhibitions but the painter of the works that went on display at a gallery in Helsinki on Tuesday (January 17) preferred to carry on hibernating.
The artist behind the exhibition entitled "Strong and soft touches" is a 423-kilogram (930 pound) brown bear named Juuso who uses his body, especially his paws, as paintbrushes.
Pasi Jantti, one of his keepers, said they just leave paint, some plywood and paper for him.
"Juuso makes art in his own time. If we ask him to make art he does nothing. He does all the work in his own time, when we are leaving him alone," Jantti said.
Juuso, who is 17 years old, favours blue and red, the keeper said, adding that the paints used posed no health risk to the bear.
His keepers discovered Juuso's artistic bent one day while painting some facilities at Kuusamo animal centre in northern Finland where he has been living since being orphaned as a cub.
The centre raised about 8,000 euros (8,500 U.S. dollars) by selling 15 paintings produced by Juuso. The exhibition now opening at the Rupla gallery in Helsinki features 11 pieces of original work and some prints and are priced from 50 to 4,000 euros.
"When I first heard about it, I was like I cannot miss this one, this I have to see with my own eyes and I had heard about Juuso bear before the exhibition so it was natural to come here. And my first expression when I came in here was that everybody was smiling and that's what I really enjoyed about the exhibition is that everybody had this huge smile on their faces seeing these paintings by a bear. It was a very positive environment," said one exhibition, Linda Lukkala.
Some of the paintings still feature bits of Juuso's fur. Funds raised from the exhibition will be used to make a documentary about bears.
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