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Video: Cat mewseum opens in Brussels
"There are two means of refuge from the misery of life – music and cats," said Albert Schweitzer. Art collector Françoise Baronian, whose "cat museum" has just opened in Brussels, agrees.
"My father loved cats and so have I, ever since I was little,” she says. “So I have collected works of art featuring cats – paintings, drawings, photographs, films, video, books, objects and sculpture."
With friends she created the non-profit Le Musée du Chat, and this itinerant museum for all things feline has set up shop in De Markten’s gallery on the Old Grain Market in the Dansaert district until the end of March.
The show has about 100 pieces by a wide variety of artists, from the daring Japanese contemporary artist Araki to conceptual Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers. The core of the exhibition is Baronian’s own atypical collection, but it has been expanded by pieces borrowed from other collections.
Treasures abound: Chinese artist Wang Du has produced a monumental cat that is about to catch a monumental mouse. There is a very clever collage of tiny Hello Kitty stickers that make up the image of a cat. Not to mention two tall green alien cats walking their dog.
On a window sill is a fabulous plastic sculpture of a cat in very subtle rainbow colours that looks like it’s disappearing.
The Brussels show is the second outing for the collection and will be followed by a show of photos and film at Charleroi’s Photography Museum in 2018 and at Rotterdam’s Kunsthal at a yet-to-be-determined date. Each show is site-specific, so no two are the same.
In collaboration with this exhibition, Bozar is hosting a lecture on 18 February by art historian Catherine Mayeur on "feline incursions in contemporary art".
So does Baronian live in a house full of cats? "I have just one," she says. "She is six months old, and it’s crazy; I forgot how kittens can get into so much trouble. I had to move everything on my kitchen counters because she systematically knocks everything on to the floor, one item after another."
Le Musée du Chat, until 26 March, De Markten, Brussels; free