A Russian artist has become a viral sensation after adding her chubby tabby cat into famous masterpieces. Svetlana Petrova, from St. Petersburg, transports the feline internet meme into high culture’s painterly canvases of the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Marc Chagall and Titian.
Metro catches up with Svetlana to learn about her creations.
Cats in high art? You’ve got to be kitten me...
[Laughs] No, it’s quite serious, actually. After my mother died in 2008 and left me her cat Zarathustra I went into a deep depression. But a friend of mine wanted to cheer me up and so suggested doing something fun with the cat, like dressing him in costumes for a photo session. But he was so fat that he couldn’t fit into anything. Instead, I decided to photoshop him into works of art.
It’s fine art-meets-‘Lolcats’. Are you a big fan of Internet memes?
I love the concept. If I were to return to university I’d write a thesis on it. But I want to make memes that are pretty to look at. Many memes are just plain ugly.
Why do you think cats have such a visual appeal?
Cats are the universal mode of communication. We may all speak different languages but we’re all lovers of cats. They’re a way of bringing us together to do good. For example, two years ago there was Hank, a cat that ran for the U.S. senate. For his campaign, I helped design some fake dollar bills with his picture on them. The project raised a lot of money for animal charities in the U.S. and Russia. So we managed to do good, not through people but through a cat.