Yang Shen, Garden Oddity, 2016, oil on canvas, 82 5⁄8 × 66 7⁄8".

Yang Shen, Garden Oddity, 2016, oil on canvas, 82 5⁄8 × 66 7⁄8".

“An Opera for Animals”

Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) 上海外滩美术馆

I once had a cat who sang. His name was Atmos, and he became quite famous. His meow was pure and tender but was also capable of different registers, allowing him to express a wide range of emotions. He also had quite a tonal range, preferring to greet arriving guests with a high-pitched yelp, but when engaged in conversation at more intimate moments, or when receiving physical affection from a human creature, he might yawp in a subtler tenor whose affirmation could quickly put the most troubled and confused spirit at ease. His success in the opera was naturally aided by the black coat of fur he had been blessed with, which gave the impression of a permanent evening suit; he was a gentlemanly creature of the sort the world no longer manufactures.

I thought about Atmos while I was visiting “An Opera for Animals,” curated by Cosmin Costinas, Hsieh Feng-Rong, Claire Shea, and Billy Tang as part

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