NABIRÉ – THE PERSONAL STORY BEHIND THE PORTRAIT
Written by Jan Stejskal
The rhino portrayed on the canvas is Nabiré, the last northern white rhino that lived in Europe. She was born on November 15, 1983 at the Dvůr Králové Zoo, the Czech Republic, as the first ever captive born northern white rhino female. She spent all her life in Dvůr Králové.
In the wild, the northern white rhinos (NWR) were poached to extinction. Their slaughter has been driven by the demand for their horn in some countries of East Asia and the Arabian Peninsula.
Thanks to 40 years of breeding efforts, the Dvůr Králové Zoo prolonged the very presence of NWR on this planet. The initial group was brought to Dvůr Králové Zoo in 1975 from southern parts of Sudan. The group consisted of two males and four females. One individual of the founding group is still alive – a male Sudan lives in Ol Pejeta in Kenya. In addition to him, there are two more northern white rhinos, females Nájin and Fatu, both of them born at the zoo in Dvůr Králové. Together with a male Sudan, they were translocated in 2009 to Kenya.
Nabiré was one of the animals that participated in Dvůr Králové Zoo efforts to breed these rare rhinos. Nabiré could not conceive naturally due to a large amount of cysts in her utero. Her left ovary, however, appeared to be healthy, so it was hoped she might become a donor of eggs for in vitro fertilization which could result in an artificially made embryo. Unfortunately, Nabiré deceased on July 27, 2015 due to a large pathological cyst that ruptured inside her body.
“Nabiré was the kindest rhino ever bred in our zoo. It is not just that we were very fond of her. Her death was a symbol of the catastrophic decline of rhinos due to a senseless human greed,” said Přemysl Rabas, the director of the zoo at the time of her death.
Nabiré’s potentially healthy ovary was immediately after the death removed and taken to a specialized laboratory Avantea in Italy. Tissue samples that could be used for scientific research and reproduction work were collected as well and they were successfully turned into stem cells. Later, a pulsing heart cell was produced from these stem cells. Although Nabiré is dead, her offspring still could be born using cutting edge scientific technologies of artificial reproduction.
The team from IZW Berlin with support from the Dvůr Králové Zoo and other partners currently aims at developing a robust protocol to optimize a procedure of harvesting and maturing rhinos’ eggs, fertilization of the eggs and following embryo transfer to a southern white rhino females. When the process is standardized on these close relatives of northern white rhinos, the team will aim at harvesting eggs from the last northern white rhino females in Ol Pejeta, mature these eggs, fertilize them with northern white rhino semen, generate embryos on a large scale and cryo-preserve them or transfer them directly into a surrogate mother of a southern white rhino origin.
ANTON MOLNÁR, THE ARTIST
I was raised in Africa – my father was a university teacher in Zaire and Mali. For that reason I have a special attachment to the Black Continent and its wildlife. Six months ago I was called by my nephew – who is a wildlife filmmaker. He told that rhinos are in extreme danger and probably I could help to save them if I can donate a painting. I immediately agreed. There are many sad things happening in the world. That is why, whenever we can, have to do good things. If I can, I donate. I help good projects. And this was an opportunity to do something for Mother Nature – our main source of inspiration. To paint however, I needed a touch. I asked Thomas Hildebrandt to provide me images. And one of them caught my attention. There was something in the eye of Nabiré. I thought this is what I need. In this look, there is the whole story.
This is an exceptional image. It felt good to make it. Now I hope it will help the rhinos – these magnificent and ancient creatures – to stay with us. Thanks to you and all the people trying to save our natural heritage.
My warmest regards, Anton
PERSONAL INTRODUCTION BY ANTON MOLNÁR
My biography can be found on my website, however to give you a brief introduction, I was born in Budapest in 1957 and graduated from the Fine Arts Academy of Hungary in 1986 with Masters qualifications in painting, anatomy and art history. My first artist appointment was as a graphic designer for the United Nations. I moved to France
in 1988 and since then have exhibited numerous times each year internationally.
My classic technique reminiscent of Renaissance and Flemish masters is combined with a modern vision, to both portray and question the world of the 21st century through my personal vision, culture and emotions.
In the July 2007 auction at Mallet Japan Auction House, my piece Kelly in Fontainebleau was sold for 14,000,000 Yen, or 130,000 Euros. This was part of a collection with works by Picasso, Chagall, Andy Warhol, Lichtenstein, Miro, Zao Wou- Ki and Jasper Jones among others.
My work is currently part of major collections in Asia, Europe and America. Notably, my work is part of the collection of business tycoon Mr Takeshi Sekiguchi, with the work Lajos Bacsi, Triptych are on display in his Honolulu restaurant ‘Vintage Cave’ alongside Picasso’s 18 piece series Les Deux Femmes. This restaurant received some attention when it was visited by Barack Obama and his family at the beginning of 2015.
In 2005, the LVMH Group (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) commissioned a sculpture-painting titled Big Spirits. It was unveiled in the Palace of Versaille by Mr Christophe Navarre, CEO of the wine and spirits division, Moët Hennessy.
MOST IMPORTANT EXHIBITIONS
2012 New York
2008 London Opera Gallery
2007 Tokyo Galleria Prova