The Martyrdom of Le Cat
A homage to my murdered colleagues
One of the pillars of a democratic society is the freedom of the press, of opinions, and of their expression – enshrined in France in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. But it has constantly been flouted over time and space. Philippe Geluck, here, pays homage to his murdered colleagues.
To all those who have been gunned down by fanatics and state-sponsored censors. To the illustrators of Charlie Hebdo, murdered in 2015. To all those colleagues who have been victims of repression.
He takes Sodoma’s ‘Martyrdom of St Sebastian’ – the representation of a young man riddled with arrows – removes it from its context of the persecution of Christians in 3rd century Rome, and transforms it.
It is true that Le Cat looks more like a Sumo wrestler than a beautiful young man as he stands there, arms tied, riddled with pencils. There is none of the original rapture in his face here. He stands straight, looks us in the eye, and does not move as he faces his torturers. He does not lower his eyes, he does not surrender. Then, once the initial horror – and our collective moment of stunned silence – has passed, life begins to flower again, birds perch on the pencils, look around, begin to chirp, first timidly, then in full-throated song, as if to say that life and humour will win out.
The Martyrdom of Le Cat quietly, calmly, defies those who would silence him. A four-legged animal, famous for standing on two of them, will never be brought to his knees.
Text by Véronique Bergen
A veritable one-man-band, illustrator, comedian, actor, and man of radio and television, Philippe Geluck was born in Brussels in 1954 into a family steeped in the arts.
In 1976, he founds the Théâtre Hypocrite and, for ten years or so, he pursues his career as an actor in Belgium’s leading theatres.
From 1979 to 2006, he created, hosted and took part in thousands of radio and TV
programmes in Belgium and France.
At the same time, he draws and paints and exhibits his wacko drawings and watercolours in galleries in Brussels, Paris, London, Milan, Copenhagen, Neuchâtel, Dallas… .
In 2003, the major exhibition ‘Le Chat s’expose’ celebrates 20 years of our feline hero, drawing more than 350,000 visitors in Paris, Brussels, Bordeaux and Rennes. In 2016, ‘L’art et Le Chat’ (‘Art and Le Cat’) initiates visitors, young and old, into key works in the history of art – with Geluck’s typical humour.
Since then, drawings, canvasses and sculptures by Philippe Geluck have been exhibited in numerous contemporary galleries and art fairs in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Korea…
Philippe Geluck is now actively working on the ‘Museum of Le Cat and Humorous Art’, which will open in 2026 in Brussels.
In 2023, the best-selling author celebrated the 40th anniversary of his hero by publishing the 24th album of Le Cat. Since 1986, 24 albums of Le Cat have been published by Casterman, as well as six best-of’s, a number of books, and three exhibition catalogues.
In English, 4 albums (Le Cat, Le Cat Strikes Back, Revenge of Le Cat, and The Bible According to Le Cat) and two catalogues (Art and Le Cat, and Le Cat Walks) have been published by Editions rue Elise.