When I take my camera out on adventures, I say to myself “Be open to everything”. I give myself this instruction so I won’t close off my senses to unexpected subject matter. Look outside the square – or better – don’t construct the square in the first place.
“Le fugitif” is an example of keeping an open mind when subject-searching. I came across a PERDU (lost) notice taped to a window whilst walking in the 3rd arrondissement last October. The home-made sign caught my attention and caused me to linger for a while. I felt sad for cat and owner…yet ever so slightly amused. I was mesmerized by the cat’s expression. I photographed it then went on my way. You never know…
I had thought about making a drawing of the notice several times over the past few months but I couldn’t get past the large word perdu above the image of the cat. Its large black letters dominated the composition. I wanted it there – to tell the story at a glance – but last week I excluded perdu. Without it the composition finally had balance.
What do I find appealing in this ‘found’ composition? I am fascinated with the cat’s intense expression and his restless position. Face and body seem to be saying “I’m outta here!!” He looks like he is, at the very moment of the photo being taken, preparing to scramble over the couch and head for the window. He looks anxious for adventure, excitement and a fast night on the tiles.
I like the rough quality of the notice itself. It is a photocopy and part of it has been cut away, maybe to remove a person’s arm. The photocopy has its own foibles. It is grainy with horizontal lines running across it. I relate those lines to stripes on a tabby cat’s coat. Notice the waves of the piece of paper itself – not unlike patchy patterns on fur. I like the tonal balance of the composition. The achromatic tones give the drawing a print-like quality. Certainly, it was lovely to leave colour out and just work in tonal greys for once. No white pencil was used in the making of this picture though I used three different brands of black and a little blue.
Now to the words in the drawing. I am reminded of Beatrix Potter. Tom Kitten (not his real name), in the night between this time and that time, fell [or jumped] from a window of XX Rambuteau Street. He was seen in Temple Street. Further down in the notice, but cropped out by me for the drawing, the information states he is a three year old male. The story is a mystery after that. We hope it has a happy ending.
Finally, I like the fact that this was never meant to be an art work. Its function was to alert the local community to look out for a lost pet. No doubt the sign has long since disappeared. Perhaps the cat is home again. Perhaps he isn’t. Whatever the situation is now, this moment in time has been caught, studied, and with utmost respect, turned into art.
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