Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Fine art improved with cats

By improved I mean 'Oh no, why has this happened'
  • @christophhooton

Not content with cats dominating the 21st century, Russian artist Svetlana Petrova has attempted to up their cultural saturation throughout history, by interpolating them in classic paintings from Titian's 'Venus of Urbino' to Grant Wood's 'American Gothic'.

The artist's collision of fine art and internet memes has landed her an exhibition in Oxfordshire, at which approximately 75,000,000 people are expected to make 'that cat must be her mews' jokes.

There's actually a rather touching story behind the paintings, which Petrova told the BBC.

"I lost my mother in 2008 and she left me Zarathustra [the cat]," she said. "I got horrible depression after her death and for two years I was unable to do something creative. By chance a friend asked me 'why don't you make an art project with your cat because he's so funny'.

"I've had cats before and included them in my work, like playing in theatre shows and I've made costumes for them. But I thought, 'What can I do with Zarathustra, because my mother spoilt him and he's so fat'.

"Zarathustra likes posing and is a really intelligent cat. He likes to lie on his back and make strange faces like he's speaking with somebody, so I began to take photos of him and inserted them into paintings.

"I liked the result so I sent it to some friends, other artists and galleries. Everyone laughed so much, so I made a website, but then forgot about it because I had another project.

'Diego Velazquez, Philip IV on Catback'

"After a few months, another friend saw my cat work in my albums and asked why I had it. I told him it was my cat and he said: 'Your cat is all over the internet!'

"Now we have special photo sessions with a professional photographer and a team who entertain Zarathustra. But sometimes he's not in the mood and I have to wait months until he agrees to make the right face."

Russian Extremes - From Icons to I-Cats will be at The Barn at Stonehill, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, from 31 May to 5 June.