Located at the heart of London’s Fitzrovia, The Framer’s Gallery introduces “LOLCat: Teh Exhibishun”, a charitable group art show devoted to the internet phenomenon of cats doing funny things. Whether comical internet memes can be accepted into the world of ‘serious’ contemporary art is however, a matter of personal taste. If you’ve ever indulged in the online guilty pleasure of watching piano-playing kitties or laughing at humorously captioned feline photographs then this is purrfect for you.
Showcased in the surroundings of a converted framing shop, the exhibit is spread across three small rooms. Despite this, the space feels very engaging, with moderate sized artworks which draw you into the close-knit community of the ‘lolcat’ spectacle. Plenty of natural lighting and overhead spotlights replicate the light-hearted nature of this gallery display. Laughter echoes through the exhibition, creating a whole different art-viewing experience. As opposed to feeling somewhat like a naughty, giggling school child hovering around a historic nude sculpture, here, you’re encouraged to snigger.
Rather than regurgitate the largely amateur works which already exist online, the group of over 40 artists contributing to this exhibition seek only to react to the craze with unique and professionally crafted works. Several mediums fill the white blank walls, ranging from photography, illustration, graphic design, paintings, video animation and screen print. In crafting their works, the artists have clearly researched their subject well, using familiar feline faces such as Sylvester the cat, lime cat and inbred (inbread) cat. Many pieces also incorporate the online community’s humorous ‘lolcat speak’, a language based on an approximation of how cats may sound if they spoke.
The oddity of these furry friends being classed as ‘art’ may not be as strange as you think. The artworks offer a natural reflection and progression of society’s current tastes and trends. Take the strikingly controversial “Murdoch Kitteh says SHHHH” watercolour piece by Lizzie Mary Cullen, depicting Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks in feline form. The pair involved in the notorious phone hacking scandal are brought together in a satirical manner. Brooks’ red hair is painted in humorous abundance whilst Murdoch looks down upon her through his oversized spectacles telling her to ‘SSHHHHH!!!!!’. The misspelling of the surrounding text ‘I found sumfinc secrut’ not only accompanies the ‘lolcat speak’ in other works but also hints at the potential stupidity of the duo for conducting such a crime. The faint watercolours also exemplify the transparency of the pair’s wrongdoing which is now displayed for all to see.
All artwork is available for purchase with 50% of proceeds kindly donated to Battersea Cats and Dogs Home. You can pick up Victoria Koshowski’s silk scarf in a kitty meme collage for £130; other artworks range from Laura Som’s “Teh Kat Detektiv” £2 postcard to Manuel Archain’s ‘The smallest cat in the world’ £2100 original framed giclée print.
So can a feline internet sensation successfully translate into material suitable for an art gallery? With its charitable cause, sell out original artworks and hilarity factor, frankly who cares? If you love a cute moggy and you’re open to a completely different, comical art experience then look no further than ‘teh kittehz’ at this one-off exhibit.
Getting there: The Framers Gallery, 36 Windmill St. London W1T 2JT; nearest tube: Goodge Street. Open Mon-Fri 10am-5.30pm, Sat 11am – 5pm until 15th February 2013. www.lolcattehexhibishun.com/. Free admission.