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Kitty and mirror

who is in the mirror?

The Ukrainian artist Svyatoslav Ryabkin painted “Kitty and mirror“ (70x80 cm), a curious oil on canvas. Here a kitten sees a lion in the mirror!

When the painter told me about this painting, time passed without realizing it. He wanted to represent the meeting of a kitten with a lion to demonstrate the courage of the first not to run away in fear. After all, both of them belong to the same cat family.

So the kitten didn‘t understand that it stays in front of a mirror?! No, it didn‘t. Perhaps the others see this image: an authoritative and fearful lion and this is very different from the reality. Or does it represent kitty‘s innermost nature? The image that we show to the world is instantly perceived by the others, long before what we really are and in the first seconds of a conversation with a stranger, he gets an idea about us that is difficult to change later.

"Kitty and mirror" offers a starting point for reflection on the dualism between the protagonist and its reflected image. The transmutation of the kitten reminds me of the protagonist of the masterpiece of English literature “The portrait of Dorian Gray“ (1890). He came to terms with the devil in order to keep his aesthetic appearance young and attractive whereas his old portait has been aging. On the contrary, in this picture the kitten looks in the mirror for what it would like to be (stronger) and it observes with admiration its reflected image.

This picture was painted in 2019 and never exhibited. The colours give a delicate chromatic impact due to the harmony of the soft colours used. In the background the brush strokes of material colour frame the mirror that is in the middle of the wall and the focus oft he subject. The blue patches have the same colour of the kitten's coat, finely striped with the tip of the handle of the artist's brush. Cats have always been much loved by Ryabkin who often depicts them with unusual and surreal colours, for example in “First snow“ (2017) a big cat is green.

Finally, the artist explained to me the role of the little gray mouse on the floor that is marked with thin lines reminiscent of wood. The mouse is there to hear the kitten's request to be different from what it is: more powerful and respectable. Dear Readers, how many times has it happened to you too to be better or in any case to evolve? Ryabkin invites the observer to always ask himself questions and not to be afraid to look into the mirror of his/her soul. If the kitten can see the lion image, it has probably been heard.
And can its peaceful part coexists with the aggressive one? This must happen because the good and the bad are two sides of the same coin, they are two dimensions that belong to the same human identity. Yes, dear Readers, Robert Louis Stevenson had already understood this concept in 1886 when he fascinated the public by treating the theme of the double with his great story called “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde“.

I invite you to discover the most evocative mirror (by water) that the artist Svyatoslav Ryabkin has ever painted in last years: “Reflections 1“ (2018) and this time the mirrored image is strictly conformed to the original.

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by Elena Sechet

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