FUJISAWA, Kanagawa Prefecture – Much mystery surrounds the collector behind an ongoing exhibition at Fujisawa City Art Space here, but one thing is certain: anyone loves cats, on a large scale.
The anonymous collector, who goes by the name of Manekineko-tei, has amassed around 630 works of art depicting felines over 40, including paintings, prints and sculptures of all ages and cultures, of which 130 pieces are on display at the gallery.
Manekineko-tei began collecting cat-themed artwork after acquiring “Girl with a Cat,” an original painting by Leonard Foujita, and went on to collect a wide variety of artwork, ranging from large multicolored “nishiki-e” prints from the Edo period (1603-1867) with paintings and sculptures by modern artists.
The Manekineko-tei treasure contains works by Utagawa Hiroshige, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Sadao Tsubaki, Satoshi Yabuuchi, Aubrey Beardsley and Leonor Fini.
It includes “Nitta Neko”, a popular cat motif used as a talisman by silk producers to hunt rats during the Edo period.
Exhibitions featuring selected works from the collection have been held across Japan since 2008.
Manekineko-tei separated from the collection three years ago.
“I have reached the age where I have to think about the future of the pieces I hold dear,” says the collector.
Manekineko-tei has decided to donate his collection on the condition that all the pieces are properly kept together in a storage place and are occasionally shown to the public.
It took two years for the collector to nominate the Fujisawa City Government as the recipient of the donation.
“I’m happy because a lot of people are going to love and appreciate them,” Manekineko-tei said.
The first part of the summer-themed exhibition “Natsu Neko-biyori” runs until July 25. Some exhibitions will be replaced for the second part, which will be held from July 29 to August 29.
Fujisawa City Art Space is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (last admission 6.30 p.m.) and closed on Mondays (except August 9), July 26 to 28, and August 10.
Admission is 200 yen ($ 1.80) for adults and 100 yen for high school and middle school students.
For any request, visit the official website at (https://www.city.fujisawa.kanagawa.jp/bunka/FAS/).