Denis Kleine

Nelson, BC

Denis Kleine

Featured Sculpture

Denis Kleine - Mother and Cub (marble)

Nelson sculptor and art instructor Denis Kleine confirms he's on a northern kick of late. Last year he presented the dynamic life and death chase between snowy owl and Arctic hare titled Survival.Currently, he is hard at work on a sculpture depicting polar bears out on the land.

Working again in lovely white marble, he offers another study of survival this year. This time it is the very existence of his subject that is in question. Polar bears, the undisputed kings of the Arctic, are increasingly in danger of eventual extermination due to climate change.

As global warning reduces the frozen expanse of ice covering northern Canada, polar bears are seeing their habitat disappear at an alarming rate. Long stretches of open water are now commonplace where solid ice used to be. This forces them into an exhausting existence swimming long distances between a patchwork of ice floes that used to be a solid unbroken ice cap.

Kleine's piece addresses the dilemma polar bears face. He places his finely sculpted duo on an ice floe, conceivably one stranded amid open water.

"It is tragic that such a magnificent animal is threatened by human actions thousands of miles away," he says. "As their habitat disappears, the whole food chain that has existed for centuries is disrupted.

"Bears eat seals; both provide sustenance and clothing for the Inuit. A traditional way of life is shrinking rapidly. Soon it could be lost along with polar bears in the wild if we continue to warm the north through increased greenhouse gas emissions."

More immediately though Kleine's piece is about teaching and nurturing, exploring the connection between mother and offspring. The mother and cub are staggered as they walk the floe, the cub nosing curiously ahead. The mother is placid and protective, padding along side her inquisitive young one.

Kleine captures the girth, power and brute strength the mother possesses as a fully mature adult. It is apparent in the long powerful legs, the elongated head and neck and the large paws. Her cub is leaner and much smaller; he or she is still growing while learning the survival skills necessary in their harsh environment from his instructive mother. The lack of fine detail in the beautiful white marble works very effectively.

For the second year in a row, the 2010 People's Choice award winner has opted to work in his preferred medium of stone, even though he is a talented instructor in bronze casting at Selkirk College's Kootenay School of Arts.

His work resides permanently in collections across British Columbia and neighbouring provinces, the United States and Europe. Kleine is also a highly respected ephemeral sculptor. He has represented Canada and British Columbia in snow, ice, and sand competitions around the globe.

This proficiency in ice and snow might influence his current focus on northern animals and people. More likely though, it is justified concern over the rate of change in the arctic, coupled with an appreciation of traditional Inuit carving.

Whatever his motivation for this current phase of his sculpting career, he - as always - pleases the viewer. Mother and Cub is thoughtfully conceived and beautifully executed. Again, the lustrous uniform white marble he works from adds appeal to his thought provoking, thematic entry.

Artist's Sculptures