For Disturbing Beauty of Sphynx Cats, Californian animal photographer Alícia Rius examines the beguiling contours of the hairless cat, capturing the paradoxical marriage of elegance and peculiarity inherent in each feline figure.
Rius is drawn to the Sphynx cat in large part for the animal’s strangeness; no matter how familiar she may become with them, each new creature sparks within her a frisson of bewilderment and awe. In her eyes, they embody all that is quintessentially feline, stripped naked of the layer of down that cloaks most other cats. Without that protective pelt, every emotion and sensation the Sphynx cat experiences might be easily read on his exposed flesh, leaving him entirely bared and vulnerable. The photographer’s focus, therefore, was on the visible and expressive curvatures of feline anatomy, the sinews, wrinkles, and musculatures of their nimble bodies.
Ruis’s feline subjects are the beloved companions of three young women who had responded to a call the photographer sent out through social media websites. Ruis always shoots under natural light, and while two of the photo shoots were set up in the cats’ own homes, one took place in a beautifully-lit loft belonging to a friend.
The cats’ majestic and at times unsettling countenances, notes the photographer, belies their loving, cuddly demeanor. The animals’ comfort was of paramount importance to the photographer, and she patiently waited for each to play and examine her equipment prior to each shoot. During her photo sessions, the cats delighted themselves with toys and treats inside a portable studio. They were ceaselessly inquisitive and engaged, revealing throughout shades their intelligent, goofball personalities.
Despite what the photographer refers to as the Sphynx cat’s “alien look,” they emerge within her frame as deeply human animals. In them, we discover something of our own oddity and nakedness, reflected back at us in these small, hairless creatures.
All images © Alícia Rius