Bateman heads to Russia for his first big European show
"I presume it's a feather in my cap," Bateman, 79, said in a telephone interview from his home in Salt Spring Island, B.C.
"Although I have been in a few art museums in Canada, often art museums in Canada turn up their nose at wildlife art so it's nice to be hanging under the same roof, for example, as Kandinsky."
Robert Bateman in Russia will open at the Russian Museum's main building, Mikhailovsky Palace, in St. Petersburg on Oct. 8 and run there until Nov. 30.
It will then move on to the Tula Museum of Art, the Ivanovo Regional Art Museum and then Tsarytsyno Park, Bread House in Moscow, ending in August 2010.
Featured are 50 canvasses gleaned from private owners, institutions and Bateman's personal collection.
All of his major environmental pieces are in the show, including one he considers to be his most "hard-hitting": An underwater scene of a dead Pacific white-sided dolphin and albatross caught in a driftnet.
"My message is that we seem to think that nature is a free lunch, and there is no free lunch," he said of that particular painting, which has a real driftnet mounted on its front.
Also in the show are paintings depicting polar bears, bald eagles, an oil spill and one "that's giving a kick in the teeth to big logging, which of course is not sustainable the way we've been going," he said.
Bateman has also created a few new works as an homage to Russia's outdoor life, including one depicting a brown bear, that country's national symbol.
"I've got a very large -- I think mine is a Kodiak Alaskan -- brown bear emerging from the foot of a waterfall, where he's obviously been fishing for salmon," said Bateman. "He's sort of coming out of the mist and about to walk past you and then at the last minute he turns and gives you a dirty look."
Overall, the show is "mostly about the wonder and beauty of nature," he said.
"That's what my whole life has been dedicated to -- showing how wonderful and varied nature is."
The show was made possible by Michael Yanney, former chairman of the board for the Joslyn Fine Art Museum in Omaha, Neb., where Bateman has had a major show.
Bateman plans to fly to Russia on Oct. 4 and stay for a few days with his wife, Birgit. Canada's ambassador to Russia, Ralph Lysyshyn, plans to attend the opening, as will Yanney.
-- The Canadian Press