Shaun Tan’s mildly surrealistic painting “A Bear and Her Lawyer” (2016) was conceived as one of his double page illustrations for the 25 modern-day animal-themed fables comprising the book “Tales from the Inner City” (2018).
In the picture, a diminutive lawyer and bear ascend the deserted gray steps leading to a courthouse. In the story, bears seek judicial redress from humankind for a list of complaints stretching back 10,000 years. Humanity, however, determines not to recognize the ursine judicial system, shooting the bears and their lawyers. Then the tale fills with an air of pain and persecution as a convoy of trucks pulls up, laden with damning documentation detailing humanity’s other crimes: The cattle have arrived and, as the exhibition explanation menacingly puts it, they are “lawyered up” and determined to have their hearing.
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