Lolcats are no longer the latest thing. Culture.pl presents Polcats: felines so refined they only bestow their affection on distinguished representatives of the Polish cultural elite. Here are seven portraits of writers, poets, filmmakers and actors alongside their whiskered companions.
Marek Nowakowski, 1981, Warsaw, photo Adam Hayder / Forum
It is well known that writers are cat lovers, and Marek Nowakowski, founder of Polish "dirty realism" was obviously no exception. While Nowakowski himself may have prefered to write about vagrants and prostitutes rather than animals, there is abundant proof that cats have a privileged spot in the heart of Polish authors.
"All the maids are like cats at play;
Faces whiter than milk, lashes soft as black silk,
And their eyes - like the star-shine are they!"
[Adam Mickiewicz, Three Budrys]
Krystyna Janda, 2002, photo Robert Jaworski / Forum
Every grande dame of the silver screen loves a pussycat, and Krystyna Janda is no exception. According to her, cats are also fond of this actress, possibly because of her theatre performance as Margaret in Tenessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
"My cat sleeps in my closet, on the fourth shelf. I have to remember not to close the door. My mother suspects that it’s because he’s crazy about my perfume".
[Krystyna Janda's Blog, the 7th of February 2012]
Wisława Szymborska with her cat, Warsaw, 2008, photo Jerzy Dudek/ Fotorzepa / Forum
The late Nobel prize laureate needs no introduction, but her poem A Cat in a Empty Apartment testifies of her affection for the little companion cradled in her arms.
"Die? One does not do that to a cat.
Because what's a cat to do
in an empty apartment?"
[Wisława Szymborska, A Cat in an Empty Apartment]
Andrzej Kondratiuk, photo. Roman Sumik / Filmoteka Narodowa / www.fototeka.fn.org.pl
In addition to being a perfect Zach Galifianakis look-alike, Andrzej Kondratiuk is a renowned filmmaker known for his abstract humour. He may look exceptionally stern for a man with three kittens on his shoulders, but cats also symbolize caution in popular Polish culture. As the Polish proverb goes: Never buy a cat in a bag!
Andrzej Łapicki, 1973, photo Studio Filmowe Tor / Filmoteka Narodowa/www.fototeka.fn.org.pl
This elegant gangster was once one of the most in-demand actor of the Polish theatre and cinema scenes. Łapicki played over a thousand roles on stage and on screen, including in Andrzej Wajda’s Everything for Sale. The disquieting black animal besides him reminds one of another cautionary Polish proverb: A black cat will tell you the truth.
Beata Tyszkiewicz and Raffcio, Warsaw, 1992, photo Jerzy Kosnik / Forum
The renowned director Wajda’s former wife was often called the Catherine Deneuve of the East, and one can hardly deny Beata Tyszkiewicz’s allure, especially with a small cat on her shoulder. While blonde beauties like Beata may have the favor of adult admirers, cats are often the main protagonists in Polish creations for children.
"A cat meows: meow!
-What did you meow me now?"
[Julian Tuwim, About a Cat]
Tadeusz Konwicki holding his cat, with his family, Warsaw, 1975, photo. Michał Browarski / Forum
And of course, cats are much beloved family members, even in families of famous filmmakers like Tadeusz Konwicki, a founder of the Polish school of auteur cinema.
"Says the kitten: bowl of milk.
Was all full, but now is dry,
Lack of milk sure makes me cry."
[Julian Tuwim, About a Cat]
Sources: own materials, edited by MJ, LB, AA and AN 27/06/2013