The Cat Burglar

Being Dutchies, it took Zart a while before we understood the rich historical world of The Cat Burglar, a print by hand of Illustrator Stephen Dumayne. Shortly, a cat burglar is a master thief who makes James Bond look like a douche bag: “A particularly stealthy burglar, especially one who gains undetected entry through the use of agility”, as the wiki describes it. The cat burglar is quite an interesting, almost iconic figure that appears in many forms throughout history.

The Cat Burglar and Other Folk Stories

Zartist Stephen Dumayne is specialised in commercial graphic design and illustrations. His work evolves from sketches on newspapers or small paintings on canvas into graphical work. Dumayne grew up in Wales and studied until 1997 in Southampton. After his studies he set out to create Illustrative oil paintings thematically based on folkloristic – and and distinctive local stories. In the course of time Dumayne switched to making digital work. He ‘digitised’ his drawn and painted illustrations using various techniques. An example is The Cat Burglar.

Dumayne made The Cat Burglar after he read a short story somewhere. A Cat Burglar is invisible, flexible as a cat or spider man himself and he – or she- steals from the wealthy and gives to himself ….

Take a Virtual Tour

Click the links in the image below for historical references.

Charles Peace, the Real Cat Burglar

The ‘real’ cat burglar is probably Charles Peace. Equally hated and admired many stories, both true and untrue, kept being written and told in bars and at fairs. Charles P. was finally caught after many spectacular escapes from several prisons and hanged in Leeds in 1879. The story goes that, again he managed to escape. His death, as gossip tells, was staged and somehow he was thought to still be moving around. He kept unseen for many years because he could change shape. Hence a Cat Burglar is usually depicted with a mask. This Charles P. was front-page news for decades. All the stories gave this master thief a mythical status. Charles P. from living legend to iconic figure.

Iconic figure

The character of The Cat Burglar inspired, of course, above all many copy cats. But also many writers, filmmakers and artists. Think for example of the character Irma Vep from Les Vampires. A famous silent film consisting of multiple series made in 1915 -1916. Or Alfred Hitchcock’s romantic thriller To Catch a Thief. Marvel’s Spiderman can be recognised as a more heroic cat burglar. And the female version made her debute as Catwoman in 1940 in the first Batman comic. However, most of these figures appeared long after Edgar Wallace, a famous crime writer, published his short story “ The Cat Burglar” in 1927.

OMG ! It’s a girl

As history shows,the character of the Cat Burglar is surrounded by mystery. It can be a man, but may as well be woman. In Dumaynes version this remains unclear. He plays with the question whether it is a woman or a man. The illustration is  full of little details that refer to the Victorian era, the period Charles P. lived. The colour palette and the shape of the houses refer to this historical period. But also typical Victorian gothic elements as mysterious architecture with secret doors and hidden staircases, and chimneys damping with cat tails.

More work  by Dumayne is in our Artist section. NB: Stephen Dumayne recently joined FB. Fans can go there and say hello.

To Artist Page >



The Artist in Residence

2015 narouz moltzer, Interpretations of Van Gogh

From the first week of June 2015 onwards Zartist Narouz Moltzer is artist in residence at the Van Gogh House in Zundert where he will work on a series of portraits of Vincent van Gogh. Zundert is the birth place of Vincent van Gogh – there he spent the first years of his life. Moltzer is best known as a painter and for his abstract portraits. By way of experiment, he painted a few portraits of Vincent van Gogh and got selected for the Artist in Residency project. 1+1=2, You see.

2015 narouz moltzer, Interpretations of Van Gogh

2015 narouz moltzer, Interpretations of Van Gogh

125 Portraits of Vincent van Gogh

During his stay on holy ground, Moltzer will try to finish a series of 125 portraits of Van Gogh during his four week-residency. At least that is the plan. Spokesman of the Van Gogh House, Ron Dirven, says he selected Moltzer for the following reason: “Narouz had been working on a few portraits of Vincent van Gogh already. The Van Gogh House wanted to give him the opportunity to expand on his works and make a series”. Zart thinks that is lovely.

In the spirit of Van Gogh

Narouz will be staying in the atelier with accommodation on the top floor. The restored verger’s house from Van Gogh’s period is just a stone’s throw from the Vincent van Gogh House. A gallery has been established in this annexe. Next to this is a new guest studio housing a Van Gogh ‘Artist in Residence’. Artists from home and abroad are invited to work here for a period of time in Van Gogh’s genre. “The goal of the artist in residency programme is to inspire contemporary artists who come to stay to make something in the spirit of Van Gogh. The purpose is to motivate the to artist in residence to create something different than they do at home”, Dirven says informing us on the project.

It’s not easy to be an ‘Artist in Resident’

What does it feel like to work on the very grounds where the great master Vincent van Gogh was born? Zart briefly spoke with Narouz to hear how he’s doing in Zundert. Moltzer says he has done a lot of work, the people are super friendly but he starts to miss home. He has done 50 to 55 works now, thats seems to be on schedule with two weeks left. In contrast to what you would expect, it does not feel like being on holy ground to Moltzer. This partly has to do with the modernisations of the guest house and partly with the new experience of being Artist in Residence.

uest Studio Van Gogh House

Guest Studio Van Gogh House

Home is where the heart is

When asked whether he rather works as an artist in residence or at home Moltzer frankly answers: “ Home!!! Unless I could be alone all of the time. And if I knew it was like this, i would have organised things better at home so I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. I would have brought more stuff for example. Now I had to travel up and down a few times. It’s the first time I experience an Artist in Residency like this”, Moltzer continues.

Mixed feelings but very special

Moltzer was greatly honoured to be invited for the project the last time Zart saw him. Is it what he expected? “ It is a bit different than I thought”, he says. “It is a wonderful experience though. I have been looking forward to it. When I wake up and open my window, I look out over the yard that harbors the grave of Vincent’s’ brother, who died in childhood. And I live next to church where his dad used to preach. That makes it all very special to be here.” Moltzer is not sure (yet) how this Artist in Residency project has influenced him. He is only halfway after all.“ I don’t think I changed the way I work”, he tells us. “On the other hand, probably because the atelier is so light and the beautiful surroundings, I have refreshed my colours”.

What the H*** is this?

The Artist in Residency and the Van Gogh House itself draw many visitors. Moltzer indicates that is the most difficult part for him. It is great to have an exhibition but less great to BE the exhibition, so he experienced. “All day long there are these groups of people passing by”, Moltzer tells.“Behind those glass windows, I feel like a fish in a bowl. I am there right in front of their camera’s. I wonder all time : “what the H** is this? Can you imagine? That is a thing I can’t get over somehow”.

2015 narouz moltzer, Interpretations of Van Gogh

2015 narouz moltzer, Interpretations of Van Gogh

Future exhibition and symposium

As all of you, Zart can’t wait to see the results of this project. The Van Gogh House plans a symposium and an exhibition of all works made during the cycle of Artist in residency projects. The dates are not fixed yet but you can follow news about events on their website:

On Saturday, the 26th of June, the Van Gogh house will present Moltzer’s work as a sneak preview.
Artist page >

Ludy’s stories of cruelty and madness

Recent developments in e.g. the Middle East show, once again, that civilisation is nothing but a thin chrome layer that over time will peel and flake. One of our Zartians, Ludy, made a series of literary paintings based on old stories that suddenly seem very contemporary.  Her paintings remind us that cruelties and atrocities are not a new invention. “The Green Ionian islands on the West Coast of Greece are the place where I travel around a lot”, she writes us. Here she picked up many stories and recycled them into paintings. Ludy: “Some of these stories, describe such cruel behaviour that I felt a need to tell what happened in a series paintings”.

Portrait Inside, see below, is about an aristocrat’s daughter, who falls in love with a poor village boy. This enrages her family and especially her father who locks her up in a convent. But her lover does not give up and brings her a serenade. When the father hears about this he loses it completely and comes to a most horrific solution: he beheads the lover. Then keeps the poor girl locked up in the attic with the severed head of the man she hoped to marry. Short fuses they had”, Ludy tells. And if no one saved the girl, she must still be locked up somewhere.

Ludy-Portrait inside


Zart does not have the complete collection of Ludy’s work but showcases 4 pieces. Check her artist page to see more.

Ludy’s page >



Skyscraper, I love you

Skyline Tokyo Photographer: B.Bampbell, Source: Flickr

Skyline Tokyo Photographer: B.Bampbell, Source: Flickr

 Underworld’s Mmm, Skyscraper I love you could have been written for our Zartist Coen Pohl. Graphic designer Coen Pohl has a fascination for cities in general and skyscrapers in particular. Pohl’s works are graphic interpretations of big cities and massive buildings. The bigger the better. What is so interesting about urban landscapes? “ It intrigues me how people live there”, Pohl starts to explain. “ How life in the city is organised is far more interesting then nature for example. Seen from above, a city resembles an anthill.”

Pohl obsessively follows new developments on his favourite website, Pohl: “I spend a lot of time on that website. You can see all kind of building projects from all over the world. There is a section for every country. Members upload updates every day. You can see anything that happens on a construction site. From London to Shanghai.”

Don’t look down

Don't Look Down, Coen Pohl

Don’t Look Down, Coen Pohl

Don’t look down is the result of Pohl’s experiment with perspective. “I fancy heights with a wide view over a big city. And a good skyline. In Don’t look down, I wanted to combine height and skyline in one image. It is almost as if it has been made with a fish eye lens or as a panorama. I wanted to make people experience depth, the feeling you get when you are standing on a tower and look down onto the streets and buildings.

World’s tallest Skyscraper

Pohl’s favourite skyscraper construction site is The Kingstower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. “The Saudi’s are building an incredible tower of more than a kilometre in height. Imagine that in the middle of the desert. Economically it is a bad idea to build skyscraper like this. There is no demand for such a project. But it is amazing to see what the human race is capable of. That it is possible”, Pohl tells with enthusiasm.


‘I am my own Model’

‘I am my own model’ (Sim 2014). A simple and complex sentence at the same time. In the works you see here, Round and Round and Circles, fine artist and illustrator Sim used a camera with a self-timer and some large screens as a starting point to get the work going. Very refreshing is that you are not looking at a regular selfie. Neither are the works made as a comment on body politics. There are also no hidden feminist statements about the search for a female visual language. Sim uses images of herself for no other than practical reasons.


2015 Close up Sim I am my own modelSim:”I have been searching for models for a very long time. Either they have limited time or they are too expensive. So I decided to be my own model. “In the beginning I had to get used to the idea of seeing myself as an image”, Sim admits. “I had to get over the feeling to start correcting things about myself. At the same time it felt comfortable to paint myself, Sim tells. “How can painting your own contours feel strange? I do not look at all kinds of imperfections I could find but focus on form and posture”.


Close up: Pochemuchka Design

”I work with ordinary pictures I run into on the internet. Or images I cut out from magazines or even find on labels. Usually, one element in this picture draws my attention. I remix all these cut up elements in order to tell a new story.” (Pochemuchka Design- a.k.a Esther Vreeland 2015)

elevation montage - Close UpPochemuchka Design by Esther Vreeland mixes iconic elements from different cultures into a new story.  She calls this technique Fusion Graphics.  Zart couldn’t agree more. More more more? See our artist section under Pochemuchka Design.