Read this post in: Dutch
Eline de Graaf will write guest blogs for Weekends in Rotterdam twice a month about creative initiatives and cultural and artistic activities in Rotterdam. You can expect articles about exhibitions in Rotterdam museums or art institutions, cool galleries and more! Be sure to check out her own blog too. Her first post is about the new Kattenliefde (cat love) exhibition in the Kunsthal. The featured artwork above is made by Walasse Ting: (1929-2010) Untitled Acrylic on rice paper © Gallery Delaive.
19 September 2017 until 14 January 2018
Kattenliefde (Cat Love)
It’s a quite challenge to write a serious blog about a cat exhibition while my own cat is trying to walk over my keyboard. I often have to laugh out loud about my black cat. For instance, he often decides, after he falls asleep on my lap, to suddenly race through the house. When I buy him all sorts of expensive toys? He’ll crawl into the paper bag where my coffee capsules were (and eventually he’ll play with dust for half a hour). Still, no one can resist my cat (even my friends that are more ‘dog people’ are completely in love when he lovingly purs on their lap)!
Everything about the cat is a contradiction and still cats have been entertaining us for a very long time. Kunsthal perfectly responded on these principles with the exhibition Kattenliefde (meaning ‘Cat Love’). Nine lives in the art. The exhibition is contradictory, just like the animal itself. There are serious and outstanding art works to admire, but at the same time the admirer can crawl through a cat door in the museum hall to watch a video artwork in a little room. Especially the interactive cat playground (a big museum hall is dedicated to this) makes you forget that you’re in a serious museum setting.
Art & Cats
When you arrive, the spectator is confronted with the cat portrait photos of Marie Cécile Thijs (1964). These contemporary photographer provided the cats of a crown or a collar, just like past portrait of noble people. The cats mostly look angry and grumpy into the lens. Exactly like my cat when I stroke him for too long against his will.
There is also a hall dedicated to Tournee du Chat Noir (1896). It’s actually quite remarkable that the buzzing nightlife of Paris in the 19th century is characterised by le chat noir. The poster, made in 1896 by Théophile Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923) is well-known. In the 19th century in France there were a lot of theater shows, nightclubs, cafés and other establishments that had something to do with cats. It wasn’t possible to imagine daily and nightlife without.
Even Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) couldn’t say ‘no’ to the cats that he came across – probably more because of their wild and independent character than because of their cuteness. Le Chat, an etch of Picasso’s hand from 1940, looks very wild, angry, and everything but gentle.
What immediately struck me, was the design of Kattenliefde. The dark or coloured walls honour the artwork. The muted light gives the exhibition a serious character. It’s as if we’re looking at still life from the Golden Century. But then you realise that there is a playful kitten on the painting that you’re looking and immediately you start to chuckle. These recurring contradictions make the exhibition very dynamic and multidimensional! A job well done, because just showing art work with cats could have the danger of being monotonous.
But… as art lover I have to admit that I especially entertained myself in the playground. The Kunsthal has made a big space where we as spectator can unravel the life of the cat. We can gallivant, stand in the spotlight, do a parkour, and last but not least: we can lounge in the artificial gras while we laugh at the countless cat movies that are shown on four different screens.
The only thing that’s missing? A furry catfriend on my lap. But, it’s still a museum.
Eline de Graaf
Rotterdam is buzzing with creative initiatives and cultural and artistic activities. Eline will keep you posted about this! Twice a month she’ll give information about new exhibitions in Rotterdam musea or art institutions, cool galleries, cultural places or art related events. Enough things for your weekend! For more art related articles and for #ANARTWORKADAY you can visit Eline at elinedegraaf.nl.