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Robert Bateman (Prints)

At Mahale – Chimpanzees (Print)

Artist's page


Offset Paper; Edition Size 950
17.5" x 35" / 43.18cm x 88.90cm
Unframed (US Dollar): $185.00

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“I first visited Africa in the 1950’s at about the same time that Jane Goodall
began her work with chimpanzees. Like millions of others I followed her career
through the National Geographic magazine and television specials. Her life and
work changed the way we see animals, especially our closest relatives, and
the way we see ourselves. She brought sensitivity and compassion to the
clear eye of science, therefore, my wife Birgit and I feel very fortunate
that we have had several opportunities to spend time with her when she
has been visiting our home area.

More than once she has asked me why so few artists, more particularly
Robert Bateman, have ever painted chimps. The explanation might lie in
the fact that they have been so “used” as a comic object that they,
through no fault of their own, have a trite and silly image. Gorillas seem
not to have suffered this same fate; they have an image of power and
dignity. Before I did my chimp painting I wanted to experience them in
the wild and to see their habitat.

I needed an “idea”, a feeling and a sense of time, place and composition.
The chance came on a trip to the Mahale Mountains along the shores of
Lake Tanganyika, about 200 kilometres south of Jane’s study area at
Gombe Stream. Sadly, the Gombe area has been almost ruined by the
wars around Rwanda and the Congo and the devastating impact of
thousands of refugees. But the Mahale Mountains have been set aside
as a park and are still in a virtually pristine state. Although our time with
the chimps was in bright sunlight, I chose a subdued green, filtered
light to symbolize their forest world. Green is a spiritual colour for me
and so I tried to depict this group with dignity, yet a sense of social
relationship and family.”