Sylvielin's Blog

”The City Is My Canvas”: Interview with Mr. Cat

Posted in about Art, Interviews with Artists by sylvielin on July 15, 2012

“I try to take part in the naissance and the exchange of a culture of proximity. (…) Tired of the individualism of graffiti, for several years, I try to develop a certain idea that is federative and positive.”

—-Thoma Vuille, a.k.a. Mr. Cat (M. Chat)[1]

〔Extract from the original text〕

Since 1977, Swiss-born artist Thoma Vuille painted images of a yellow grinning cat in public spaces in French cities such as Orléans, Nantes, Paris, etc. Each graffiti is accompanied by the signature ”M. Chat”. Seen frequently high on the roofs or other visible spots, the cat with its smile became something familiar to city people. It was until 2007 when Vuille let himself be caught by the police during the execution of a graffiti in a subway in Orléans, that the real visage of the artist was revealed to the public. Apart from public spaces, the cat also slips into the manifestation crowds in Paris since 2001, after the presidential election. Placards showing the cat suddenly appeared among the demonstrators ; the scenes were spread through TV news nationalwide. Until today, Mr. Cat, along with the Cat Collective created in 2001 by Vuille, Etienne Sandrin (independent curator who also works in the Pompidou Center) and others, is invited to make in-situ projects worldwide ; the territory is extended as far as Asian countries like Japan and Korea, as well as war zones such as Sarajevo.

In my interview with Mr. Cat, he traced the origin of his cat graffiti : ”I did graffiti in my teens. It was in this way that I got interested in cultural things.” Also, ”at the time of my personal utopia, I wanted to make a revolution. I wanted to have cats everywhere and that people repaint them.”[2]

1. From the preface of the book M. Chat (Editions Alternatives, Paris, 2010).
2. All the qutations of Mr. Cat in the text come from the interview.

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