I love art. I love animals. I love when the two combine. I was not paid to write this article; it was my pleasure. All I received was a copy of the book to review.
Life with Dogs and Cats Exclusive Interview with Zarathustra the Cat
He’s big in the art world. He’s also fluffy. And has whiskers.
I had the opportunity to chat with Zarathustra, the muse (mews?), model, and majestic mancat of Fat Cat Art who collaborates with Svetlana Petrova, an artist whose medium these days is improving classic masterpieces. By adding a cat. Specifically a fat ginger sweetheart named Zarathustra.
Zarathustra and Svetlana
Zarathustra lived with (and was spoiled by) Svetlana’s mom, who called him, “the best Cat in the world.” When she passed away in 2008, Sventalana adopted the cat. “I was so close to my mother, and miss her so much. Zarathustra was and is a living memory of my mother.”
Encouraged by friends, and trying to find her way out of the depression that followed her mother’s death, Svetlana began photoshopping Zarathustra into famous paintings. The artists and collectors she sent them to laughed so hard they wept.
Svetlana tells me that Zarathustra loves to be photographed. He “likes to be photographed, for him it is an interesting game, though he acts in a very professional way. And he adores a lot of attention to his precious person!”
Both artists take their work seriously; Svetlana adds texture gels and oil colors to match the original artists’ work — even using “very rare historical pigments made from precious stones such as lapis lazuli (which for example, is a very important color in Vermeer’s Milkmaid.)”
You’ll note in the following interview with Zarathustra that he uses the royal “we,” referring to himself in the plural. I asked Svetlana about this. She told me, “Zarathustra refers to himself as We, like kings in the ancient times did, because he is full of dignity as much as they were, and he also thinks he is representing all cats, like Simurgh, the Iranian mythical bird as large as thirty birds. Zarathustra thinks he is as large as many cats. He lived for ages hidden in art; that is why he has a big respect for himself and refers to himself as We.”
She added,”If you would see his extremely serious full-of-dignity face in some very funny moments, you would understand that he cannot speak in another way!”
And then she told me, perhaps as a way to explain the cat’s warmth and loving nature, even as royal as he is, Zarathustra “calls other cats ‘Our beloved brother’ or ‘Our beloved sister.’
Thus Speaks Zarathustra: Interview with the co-author of Fat Cat Art
Do you enjoy posing and participating in the artwork?
Yes! We love it! Our main passion is to sit for the great artists. Only great artists can appreciate Our generous body and sublime soul.
Do you have a favorite artist or style?
We love Renaissance art, there We feel Ourselves at home. Peter Paul Rubens is good for Our fluffy forms. Dutch still life is so tasty, especially crabs and lobsters. Salvador Dali loved cats, and he loved Us most of all; We are making his art even more surreal. We appreciate Edward Hopper for reserving a lot of empty space in his paintings for a cat as large as We are.
What are some favorite works of art that you have appeared in?
Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali. [Interviewer’s note: you can see these on my previous Fat Cat Art post and giveaway page) Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder — here We gave a recipe how to fix the tower, St.George and the Dragon by Uccello – We made this story non-killing. In fact We improve only paintings that We love, so We love them all!
Are there other famous cats or people you would like to meet? If so, why?
We love to meet all famous cats because cats solidarity helps to resolve human conflicts We had Our very good friend cat Hank who ran for Senate; unfortunately he passed away. And now We are in friendly relations with Tuxedo party and with Simon’s Cat.
We are planning to make a festival of cat culture in St.Petersburg Russia next year, and hoping to invite famous cats there, of course if they will be able to travel so far away. We, cats, don’t like to travel too much.
Do you have any advice for other artistically inclined cats — or dogs?
Yes! Train good your humans, teach them, inspire them, support them; they need your love so much, and you will have success in art!
The title of your book is Fat Cat Art. Do you mind being called “fat?”
Do you know that the family name of Leo Tolstoy means “fat,” and his name sounds just like “lion” in Russian? If Leo Tolstoy is a “fat lion,” We don’t mind to be a “fat cat.” It is just a nickname; in fact We are big-boned and fluffy.
But We hate if somebody calls Us “overfed.” We are making so much efforts being on diet, that it sounds very offensive for Us!
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