Since 1280, the bear has been an emblem and symbol of the capital city of Germany — Berlin. But why bear and not any other animal? It is as simple as that: the German word for bear: “Bär” sounds very similar to Berlin. In the middle ages, “speaking” emblems were created to figuratively represent the sound of a word.
Since the art project “Buddy Bears” was initiated in 2001, about 2000 bears are decorating the streets of Berlin and several other cities worldwide. They represent tolerance, peace and freedom. Each of them is unique, carrying features of the respective country/culture.
The buddy bear completed his journey from Berlin to Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan Pune and shall now be a mascot of the friendly bond shared between India and Germany.
To transfer the buddy bear into a Punekar, 6 renowned visual artists coming from different artistic backgrounds gifted him his new dress, wherein they painted him in vibrant colours.
The initial vibrant and colourful textures and patterns denote joy and welcoming emotions. They also create an interesting backdrop for the main motives like ‘auto-rickshaw’ and ‘Amrutatulya Chaha (Tea)’ which bring out the character of the city of Pune.
The German connection is further established through inspiration derived from the motives by German conceptual artist Joseph Beuys.
Narrating about the factors that really inspired him to take up this project, Raju Sutar (curator and established contemporary artist from Pune) talks about behavioural dynamics of the artists in a collaborative project. ‘There is a lot of self-assessment that takes place through various stages. Shedding off one’s ego while painting in a group in opposition to painting on one’s own ideas in a studio is one of the major components. In a collaborative set-up, each artist is into a dialogue with the others through his perceptions and there is a lot of over-painting that happens with every succeeding perception whilst leaving your comfort zones,’’ says Raju Sutar.
Pune-based artists Vaishali Oak, Mukta Avachat, Aboli Kadam, Aditya Shirke, and Sanjay Tikkal have equally contributed in giving the buddy bear his new look by harmonising their ideas with each other.
The buddy bear shall now be the new welcoming mascot standing at the entrance of the Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan Pune.