Artists channel their feline friends

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Artists channel their feline friends


“The Nyang: Love Like Cats” features artwork by 14 cat-loving artists. Above is a piece by graffiti artist Ninbolt and sculptures by artist Byun Dae-yong. [MINOA ART ASSETS]

The relationship between artists and their cats has long been documented. Felines have served as inspiration for famous writers like Edgar Allan Poe and Ernest Hemingway and kept many a creative company. The exhibit “The Nyang: Love Like Cats,” celebrates that special connection.

Featuring photographs, paintings and sculptures of cats by 14 renowned artists, each work shows the furry friends in a creative way - from some wearing hanbok (traditional Korean dress) to others who look like Hollywood movie stars.

“We are holding an exhibit about cats because these animals have long been [close] companions of humans - they are always there for you when you are lonely,” Choi Hwan-seung, the CEO of Minoa Art Assets, the exhibit’s host, said during a pre-exhibition with the press last Friday. “They were the friends of popular artists Leonardo da Vinci, Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso - they are lifelong companions.”

To each of the participating artists, cats have a very different significance.

“Cats are like family; they give me inspiration,” said illustrator Bae Sung-tae when asked what cats meant to him during the press conference. “But one time, when I appeared on a TV program about cats, my two cats weren’t able to recognize their owner,” he added, laughing.

For web comic artist Dol Bae, cats have always been the subject of envy. “My friend’s cat was always wandering around, eating and sleeping and doing nothing,” she said to the press. “I thought that I wanted to become a cat one day.”

Unfortunately, she is allergic to cats, so she can only watch them on YouTube.

Photographer Lee Yong-han, treats cats with the highest respect, and it shows in his work. His first interaction with cats was when he started to feed street cats.

“At that time, I thought that humans are only helpful for cats. But now, I feel like we are the ones who are helped by them. They cheer us up when we feel sad. They make us laugh.”

Lee tries to take photos of their most natural looks. In order to do so, he needs to earn “basic trust” from them first.

“I don’t take photos of them unless they approach me first,” he said. “I just let them enjoy themselves - playing and fooling around. That’s when I press the shutter button. These kinds of photos are only possible when you gain their basic trust first.”


The exhibit is being held at PopconD Square inside IPark Mall in Yongsan District, central Seoul and runs until March 3. Tickets are 11,000 won ($9.95) for adults, 9,000 won for ages between 13 and 19 and 7,000 won for kids under 12. It is open every day from 10.30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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