Strips of vibrantly patterned fabrics, entwined red thread, and everyday objects floating in the sky are a few of the recurring motifs within El Gato Chimney’s works. The Milan-based artist has a surreal vision tinged with metaphysics, spirituality, and myth that he layers into scenes replete with unexpected details: clusters of birdhouses and floral embellishments envelop a bird’s upper body like a garment, a forlorn mule clutches a gold staph while yellow frogs climb its torso and legs, and a detached arm emerges from a cloud grasping an angry snake. Each piece marries the natural world with the occult and magical, firmly placing recognizable subjects and objects within the supernatural realm.
Working in vivid watercolor and gouache, El Gato Chimney is drawn to animal symbolism across folk traditions and cultures, whether it be European mountain regions, the Himalayas, or areas in Japan. “It’s incredible to discover how many similarities there are between these three areas, especially in relation to animals and their symbolism,” he says. “I use birds more than other animals because birds are the animals with more symbolism and magic power for almost all cultures.”