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    Celebrity Bear Makes Stout Debut at Finnish Art Gallery

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    Earlier this week, an art gallery in the Finnish capital Helsinki swung open its doors and invited art connoisseurs to a collection of works by an unconventional artist: namely, a 17-year-old brown bear named Juuso who weighs over half a ton (nearly 500 kg).

    The exhibition in the Rupla art gallery in Helsinki features eleven original works and a number of impressions and is called "Strong and Soft Brushstrokes." In reality, Juuso makes use of his natural talent and especially his paws as brushes. Some of the paintings still boast traces of the bear's fur.

    Unfortunately for the public, the artist himself was not present at the exhibit, as he had already settled down to hibernate for the winter in his den at Kuusamo animal center in northern Finland, where he was nurtured and raised after being orphaned as a cub. The creative process is likely to rekindle next fall.

    "We'd better wait until next autumn. In the summer, nothing ever happens usually, and in the spring Juuso's mind is wandering upon other things, as with other male bears. Autumn is a more creative time, I believe," attendant Pasi Jäntti told Finnish national broadcaster Yle.

    ​According to Jäntti, Juuso has a special fascination for the colors red and blue. The personnel simply leave plywood boards, paper and paint and the bear knows exactly what to do. However, inspiration is needed, and the paintings do not come on demand.

    "Juuso creates art at his own pace. If we specifically ‘ask' him to paint something, it usually amounts to nothing. He works best when left alone," Pasi Jäntti told Swedish national broadcaster SVT, pointing out that all the paints used in bear paintings are strictly non-toxic and do not pose any health risks to the artist.

    ​During the exhibition, 15 works of art were sold for approximately $9,000. The money will be used to make a documentary about bears.

    In recent years, Juuso became a Finnish celebrity after starring in a number of films. He was even mentioned by President Sauli Niinistö in his New Year's speech as a fine example of how man and nature can get along.

    Pasi Jantti a keeper of a bear called Jusso points on the painting at the gallery in Helsinki, Finland January 17, 2017
    © REUTERS / Atti Cser
    Pasi Jantti a keeper of a bear called Jusso points on the painting at the gallery in Helsinki, Finland January 17, 2017



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    modern art, animals, Scandinavia, Finland
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