Graffiti

Graffiti artist M. Chat scales wall of Hong Kong hotel as he paints signature smiling cat

Thoma Vuille ascends Hotel Jen for nine-day project to bring ‘humour and humanity’ to city

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 March, 2016, 3:26pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 March, 2016, 3:26pm

A graffiti artist known for his iconic smiling cat paintings has started painting a huge mural on the side of a Hong Kong hotel.

M. Chat – real name Thoma Vuille – scaled the side of the Hotel Jen on Queen’s Road West on Saturday as he began work on his nine-day project.

The 38-year-old French-Swiss artist was strapped up in full climbing gear as he navigated the hotel’s scaffolding up to 40 metres above the ground.

READ MORE: Graffiti artist Invader back in Hong Kong, and this time he’s invited

He planned to complete his 13 metre by 13 metre artwork by March 20 as part of Art Supermarket’s Talking Animals exhibition, in partnership with this year’s edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong.

Later this week he also planned to paint a mural at wine cellar La Cabane on Hollywood Road in Central.

Speaking to the Post, Vuille said he wanted to bring “humour and humanity”to Hong Kong with his creations.

M. Chat's high level wall painting in Hong Kong - Day 1

M. Chat's high level wall painting in Hong Kong - Day 1Witness one of the city’s largest wall paintings being drawn at Hotel Jen Hong KongDaily from 12 March (Saturday) to 18 March (Friday) (both days inclusive), Hong Kong art gallery, Art Supermarket and Hotel Jen Hong Kong will be collaborating to bring you a large-scale live painting performances the city has ever seen. Upcoming French artist M. Chat (“Monsieur Chat”, in English: “Mr. Cat”), will be doing his stuff on the exterior wall of Hotel Jen in the Western District. This unique live painting performance aims to bring more humanity and humor to Asia’s World City through the medium of art. It is also part of Art Supermarket’s coming-up exhibition Talking Animals, which starts from 5pm, 20 March (Sunday) 2016. Talking Animals featuring new artworks by M. Chat (“Monsieur Chat”, in English: “Mr. Cat”) and Hong Kong-based Australian artist Phil Hayes.For more information about the exhibition and the artist check our website: www.artsupermarketasia.com

Posted by Art Supermarket on Sunday, March 13, 2016

He explained that in each of his paintings “the grinning cat aims to bring positive energy and a smile to the city”, or, as he put another way, to bring “a bit more humanity and humour” to the city.

For this reason Vuille thought the scale of the project – going “higher and bigger” – would add heft to the message.

The artist came to Hong Kong 10 years ago and said he had always wanted to return to paint due to the city’s “strong energy”.

“The grinning cat aims to bring positive energy and a smile to the city”
Thoma Vuille

He said the city had become “the biggest art hub in Asia” and leapt at the chance to to produce work for the Art Basel event. “I said, ‘Let’s go paint the highest wall and do something that’s never been done before’,” he recalled.

Vuille adopted the M.Chat persona in the French city of Orleans in 1997 after attending a workshop in which a young girl was carrying a cartoon cat.

He was only forced to reveal his real identity after he was arrested in 2007 for tagging a wall in Orleans.

Vuille has come to embrace his public profile and expresses no regrets for his past actions.

“I look forward not backward,” he said. “I take my responsibilities seriously and being unmasked opened new doors for me.”

He said his heightened visibility helped him evolve technically and artistically, rather than just drawing attention for being a mysterious figure.

READ MORE: Spraying colour on a new urban canvas: Taiwan’s graffiti artists welcomed into legalised graffiti zones

Talking Animals is a joint collaboration between Vuille and Hong Kong-based Australian artist Phil Hayes.

A spokesman for Art Supermarket said Talking Animals represented “a simple and open feeling universe seen through animals’ eyes”.

The spokesman added: “Through different species from all over the world, Phil Hayes and M. Chat present an optimistic and emotional point of view on our daily life, as well as a cultural encounter between Western and Asian worlds.

For more information visit www.artsupermarketasia.com.