Tigers and Fables

The Tiger and the donkey out hunting

When hunting, a tiger and a donkey can work together.
The donkey’s heehawing is a great halloo shout.
But you’ve never seen a hunting horn claim that it has brought down the prey

The Tiger and the donkey. 100 x 81 cms 2004. Oil on canvas.

 

Tiger fables is a common title I have given to my water colours which are inspired by 20 of Jean de la Fontaine’s fables. It is only a small selection from his very great works from the 17th century.

Through a deep study of these selected fables I experienced how profound their content was, and I was moved to interpret them in my own way. And they became paintings…

During my work with the animal fables I have had many experiences in relation to the world we live in. They are partly the great international political problems, and partly the intimate daily situations, which I have experienced in a different way seen in the light of the fables….

To get as close as possible to the original text I have read it in the original language. That is ancient French, but it was lucky for me that Anna Christoffersen made a translation into Danish, as well as writing a short text to each picture. La Fontaine’s fables were originally written in verse and are often very cryptic, almost surrealistic. There are ambiguities in the selection of animals; they can have different symbolic meanings than they have in a Danish context.

Through the numerous drawings and water colours I have done in the last 9 months, I have moved further and further into my own world of fables. Thus the Lion has become the Tiger.

I have consciously chosen certain fables which make up an “animal of prey’s” lifetime, taken together. The water colour “The Tiger” is inspired by the fable called “Le Lion” which is about a lion cub growing up and the other animals’ attitude to it during its growth. The water colours “The Tiger goes to War”, “The Tiger and the Donkey out Hunting”, “The Tiger’s Court” and others have taken their inspiration from “Le lion s’allant en guerre”, “Le lion et l’ane chassant”, “La cour de lion” and are about the grown-up tiger and its relationship to the other animals relative to their different mentalities. Finally there is “The Tiger who got old” (Le lion devenu vieux) which depicts the aging tiger experiencing how the other animals humiliate it.

In all the fables it is constantly a question of who is the strongest, and treats the psychological game between animals….or human beings. However it is not always about who is the largest, as seen in the fables “Le lion et le moucheron” and “Le lion et le rat”. They have inspired the water colours “The tiger and the gadfly” and “The Tiger and the Rat”.

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