Title: Cat’s Talk – in red (from Cat’s Talk series)
Initial conception: 2004
Motifs: Representation of the face of a cat, based on an original canvas using simple black brush strokes, then digitally rendered in a series of bold colours.

Colours: bordeaux, red, orange, yellow, chartreuse, green, aqua, blue, pink, violet

While studying at New York University in the late ’80s and early ’90s, I was strongly influenced by pop art, abstractionism, and installation art. At that time, I experimented with many digital still-life images including flowers, fruit, and even the Statue of Liberty.

“Time spent with cats is never wasted” Sigmund Freud

On my return to Tokyo, inspired by my interactions with our family cats Leo and Elza and intrigued by their very distinctive characters, I sought to capture their different facial expressions in over 100 original black and white canvases (410mm x 318mm). Having chosen my favourite model I digitized it and produced a series of bold, colourful images, which I subsequently converted to one-off full-sized prints. (1445mm x 893mm).

The work is, in a sense, a fusion of East and West, using lines and space, yet respecting the perspective of the ancient Greek golden rule.

“A cat has absolute emotional honesty, human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not” Ernest Hemmingway

The underlying concept of Cat’s Talk is communication and self-realization. We are often so busy with our work and everyday lives we don’t take time to reflect on who we are and where we are going. In the reflection of the eyes of cats, we see ourselves…

“What an artist is trying to do for people is bring them closer to something, because of course art is about sharing. You wouldn’t be an artist unless you wanted to share an experience, a thought.” David Hockney

Cats Talk was chosen as a project in one of the major financial districts in Japan by Hayao Kawai the Commissioner for Cultural Affairs, because he believes that art enriches the mind. To quote Kawai: “Just take your time and take a detour. There is always a little happiness to be found along the way.”

New avenues

The most recent interpretation of Cat’s Talk is “Cat’s Talk Milano” which was exhibited by the M.A.D.S. Art Gallery in Milan Italy in September 2021. This work is in homage to my old friend from Milan, Enzo Mari (1932-2020) a maestro of design who created iconic products, sculptures, and installations that represent true milestones in the history of Italian design

How to be a Cat – Hans Ostrom (2008)

“Be the noble curator of your excellence,

for fate made you perfect.

In all things, be precise: standing, sitting, staring,

walking, sniffing, eating, sleeping, killing.

Never look in mirrors, which are windows for the insecure.

Sleep in a variety of comfortable places, which were created for you alone.

Make acquaintances, never friends. The latter tend to cling.
All phenomena are potential enemies.

Therefore, stare, listen, listen, stare, sniff, stare, listen, sniff,
hide, stare, and listen. Never perform tricks.

Leave those to dogs, who need to be wanted and want to be liked.

Talk as necessary, but never just to chit-chat.

Crack the whip of feline fury as you wish.

Keep the blades of your four-feet sharp and retracted like long-held resentments.

Let your soul’s motor idle and strum the taut cord of your body.

No one owns you. God made you and likes you best.

In a world that’s dubious, you are certain. You never make mistakes.

You are entitled to what you want; otherwise, why would you want it?
No matter what else you may be undertaking, never be reticent to stop and groom yourself, for you are superb, and self-maintenance doubles as self-admiration.

You are a cat, a form of beauty that enters stealthily, naps, and agrees to be admired.

You are a cat. Everything is as it should be.”

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