Art of the Forest Orangutan Holds First Solo Exhibition in Germany

An orangutan is holding his first solo exhibition of his paintings in a zoo in Germany. Like many artists, he knows the therapeutic value of art: He took up painting after his partner died.

The therapeutic value of art is well known -- when things are bad, artists both amateur and professional pick up the brush to ease their aching souls. The American Abstract Expressionist sculptor David Smith threw himself into his work when his second wife left him, saying it was "the only way to snap out of it."

Now one highly intelligent artist who took up painting to console himself after losing his partner is holding his first solo exhibition in Germany. However the painter, known only as "Buschi," is an artist with a difference -- he is an orangutan.

Buschi, who lives in Osnabrück Zoo in the western German state of Lower Saxony, is something of a prodigy -- he only took up painting one year ago, when his partner Suma died. He was encouraged to do so by staff who wanted to keep him busy so he wouldn't feel so lonely.

Now Buschi, whose chosen medium is fingerpaints on paper, is holding his first solo show at the age of 34. His paintings are being shown in the ape house of Osnabrück Zoo and can be bought by visitors. Proceeds go to the charity Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation , which works to save orangutans and their habitat in their native Indonesia.

Orangutans, whose name means "people of the forest" in Malay, are considered to be extremely intelligent. "Buschi is certainly not the only orangutan who paints," Ute Magiera from Osnabrück Zoo told the DPA news agency.

The exhibition can be seen in Osnabrück Zoo  until the end of September.


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