Mythological Felines

Kazuaki Horitomo's monmon cats.

貓時而精靈時而苯拙,時而坦蕩蕩時而神秘,彷彿滿腹鬼計又似乎呆頭呆腦。自古以來,似乎沒有另一種動物更剌激我們的想像。歌川広重以貓入畫,夏目漱石以貓為主角寫成《我是貓》,來到今天,紋身師Kazuaki Horitomo也以貓作為主角。


Horitomo現時在美國加州的State of Grace Tattoo任紋身師,替客人刺過大面積的魔鬼或飛龍圖案。只是幽默且古靈精怪的貓圖案似乎更合他個性,近年更創辦的自家品牌Monmon Cats(Monmon是紋身的日文發音),紋身貓自此不只剌在人身上,也印成海報印成書,從人身上出竅,留在家居之中。

Cat is a self-contradictory animal: agile but sometimes clumsy; candid but mysterious; devious but dumb. Perhaps there is no other animal that can stimulate human’s imagination more than cats can do. Cats can be found in Utagawa Hiroshige’s arts, as well as Natsume Sōseki’s novel I Am a Cat. Today, tattoo artist Kazuaki Horitomo is one of those who uses cat as a muse of his artworks.

Horitomo loves cats as much as he loves tattoos; tattooing cats thus allows him to combine his two greatest passions in life.  A simple marriage that makes his cat tattoos now the most representative part of his career. The cats he draws have a trace of ukiyo-e style. The somehow eerie expression of his cats resembles the mythological felines in Japanese folklore: sitting on a skull-patterned cushion playing shamisen; tooth picking with a satisfied face after enjoying grilled fish; performing stunts with a paper umbrella in hand; lying on a couch while being worshipping by mouse; they are even seen tattooing tender lotus flower or fierce tiger on one another’s back…

Horitomo currently works in State of Grace Tattoo in California. He sometimes does huge tattoos of demon or flying dragon for clients, but after all, he can be better represented by his mischievous cats. Horitomo recently started his own brand Monmon Cats (Monmon is the Japanese term for tattoo), his cat patterns then escalated from tattoo on people’s skin to collectibles at home in the form of posters and prints in books.