Cover South Korean Illustrator Nyangsongi is hosting her first overseas solo exhibition in Hong Kong (Photo: @nyangsongi/Instagram)

South Korean Illustrator Nyangsongi reinterprets daily life with a feline touch for her exhibition in Hong Kong called All About Catsssss

It’s not a myth. Watching cat videos is good for you and science has proved it. Various studies have shown that looking at images of cute animals, including cats, can help improve mood and productivity. This has resulted in a boom of cat imagery being uploaded across social media for those who need to relieve stress. And a new exhibition in Hong Kong titled, All About Catsssss is also here to do the same.

Nyangsongi, a Korean illustrator specialising in cat drawings is exhibiting heartwarming, funny and adorable caricatures of cats in moments inspired by our own daily life. She also created three special Hong Kong-inspired drawings for the exhibition.

Find comfort in the drawings whether it’s a recreation of how we feel on a weekday morning as we commute to work, the various ways we use an electric fan or how we can’t keep our eyes off our smartphone. Nyangsongi sits down with Tatler to talk about her exhibition and why she herself, loves cats.

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You specialise in cat drawings. What made you decide to focus on cats?

My love for cats grew when I started living with my own cat. Other animals definitely have their own charm, but I think a lot of people will be able to relate and be amused by the cat’s proud but quirky behaviour. As a cat owner, I have a close connection with cats and they are also a source for ideas for my drawings. Instead of expressing my emotions and my experiences by drawing a person, I think basing my experiences on cats is much more enjoyable. Cat owners can easily relate to the cat’s characteristics and feel comforted by their adorable behaviour.

How would you describe your drawing style?

I strive to draw witty and vivid chubby cats that can bring warmth to the viewers and I think everyone who sees my work will probably feel that too. I try my best to imitate the real shape of a cat in all my works so even people who are not familiar with cats will have no difficulties in appreciating the drawings. I use colour pencils which give a warm and cosy texture to animals and they are great for drawings that aim to convey a warm feeling.

Do you have a specific cat or scene that you like to draw?

I like drawing cats that look a bit fat and unflattering rather than a beautiful, fit cat that’s posing confidently. I think cats are so charming when they look a little odd, act a little foolish and just generally, look realistic. They have this quirky charm, just enjoying their own private place but also feel lonely easily. These feelings are familiar to me so I reference this a lot while I draw.

Where do you get inspiration from drawing the cats?

I get inspiration from interacting with cats and observing their habits and characteristics. A lot of people also share photos and videos of their pets’ daily life on YouTube and social media nowadays. I watch them every day and take references from them too. By doing so, I get a lot of ideas on how a cat acts at different moments.

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Can you tell us more about your exhibition, All About Catsssss in Hong Kong?

The concept of the exhibition is seeing yourself through cats. I created all the exhibited works based on my own experiences but I think visitors will also find themselves in similar situations or emotions. The artworks mainly feature personified cats and their distinct characteristics. I wanted to draw resonance from the viewers based on their own experiences and bring joy, comfort and satisfaction.

With this exhibition, I want to go beyond just presenting a cute drawing of a cat so I put a lot of effort into choosing designs that can communicate with and inspire the viewers. People have different opinions based on their own experiences so I hope to leave an open space for them to interpret the drawing on their own.

What makes this exhibition different from the other ones you’ve had?

The previous exhibition was divided into four partitions showing the pleasant life of cats in the four seasons. But this time, I wanted to encourage viewers to reflect on themselves through the cats. I think a lot of people love cats as they are—they look just as cute even when they act foolishly. I want to convey the point that even insufficiency can be adorable as well. As the title “All About Cats” suggests, everything [about cats] is loveable as it is, no matter how it looks and how its behaviours are interpreted.

Why should Hong Kong visitors be excited about the exhibition?

I hope that cat lovers and art lovers will find pleasure in appreciating the artworks without much thought rather than being feeling burdened because of a heavy and serious subject. I believe that the message that the artist wants to deliver has to be communicated well with the message that the audience is expecting. The artwork has to be relatable which is why I took special care in naming my works. The title is the most powerful explanation I can give about my drawing. For this exhibition, my greatest expectation is for visitors to feel the charm of the cats and be able to empathise with them while appreciating the drawings.

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What are some of the highlight pieces in the exhibition?

Of course, for me, all the exhibited pieces including the three Hong Kong-themed works are the highlights of the exhibition. I can’t pick any one of them and say that’s the highlight because each work has its own beauty and message. And to be honest, even if I had chosen one work as a highlight, it’s unlikely that everyone will feel the same as every person thinks differently and will have different favourites. So, please come and visit the exhibition and look through the selection, whichever work that leaves a strong impression in the viewers’ heart will be the highlight of the exhibition for them.

What aspects of Hong Kong did you incorporate into the three Hong Kong-inspired pieces?

I wanted to include all elements about Hong Kong and in general, a lot of them are related to food so I presented it as a gourmet trip which is very much my personal preference as well. The beautiful scenic night view and dim sum as one of Hong Kong’s most iconic foods cannot be left out. I wanted to introduce what makes Hong Kong special in a simple painting which is why I drew the concept of a trip to Hong Kong.

Do you see yourself drawing something other than cats in the future?

Actually, I’ve been drawing for 10 years and specifically cats for four years so, before that, I've been drawing in a completely different style. I started drawing cats as Nyangsongi because I wanted to draw what I love but originally, I drew illustrations that would be used in package designs for cosmetics and beauty brands. Of course, I’m still doing that currently alongside Nyangsongi activities.

You can’t make it to Hong Kong during the pandemic. Do you have any fond memories of the city?

I have a lot of friends who love travelling to Hong Kong and I actually made plans to visit Hong Kong last year but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I’ve been attracted to Hong Kong’s culture, entertainment and unique charm since I was young. It has always been one of my must-visit places. The artist I admire the most also happens to be from Hong Kong.

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All About Catsssss exhibition runs from October 28 to November 21 at Gallery by the Harbour from 11 am to 10 pm.



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