Philippe Katerine brings the cute to the Quartier des Spectacles

May 10, 2024

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Acclaimed French singer and actor Philippe Katerine is also a visual artist, and he’s created a new art movement: Mignonisme (“cute-ism”). He’s currently presenting his quirky, poetic and humorous works in the Quartier des Spectacles and downtown Montreal. The Monsieur Rose sculptures are icons of Mignonisme, and collectively they form a series of 15 monumental works to be discovered until September 29.

Philippe Katerine spoke with us to explain his approach and tell us more about Mignonisme.

Interview by Sébastien Tétrault

How did you become a visual artist?

Philippe Katerine: My first attempts at art were in drawing. And those first steps are often crucial – if they’re successful, they’ll provide lifelong motivation. For example, when I was 8 there was a national competition. The challenge was to draw Monsieur Séguin’s goat. I entered and won the national prize! I won a short trip. When you have that kind of success, you tell yourself this is what you’re meant to do… and I was always sure of that. And yet I didn’t make much progress after that. There are much more talented people than me, but I always believed in myself, clutching my pencil. People would say: “that Philippe sure is good with that pencil.”

What is Mignonisme?

P.K: Mignonisme isn’t necessarily about literal cute things, like kittens playing with balls of yarn. It’s not just cuteness. Mignonisme is an artistic movement – and I’m the only member of it. It’s the clash between something cute or adorable and something painful, dark, scary.

How did you create Mignonisme?

P.K: I think it had to do with lockdown. I was playing with the kids, their toys. I was frustrated that I couldn’t play concerts – I had been scheduled to do lots of shows with the band, including a stop in Montreal, various festivals. In frustration, I started pulling the heads and arms from Playmobil dolls. It was pretty violent! I wanted to convey the idea that festivals would only be possible at the time if we had no head or limbs, because that’s how you get the virus. So it’s a mix of cuteness – Playmobil kids’ toys – and frustration and, ultimately, horror.

In hindsight, could we say certain artists had a Mignoniste side?

P.K: Definitely! Mignonisme is also a template for re-reading the history of art, film, architecture. You notice that there have been plenty of Mignoniste artists before me, from Lascaux to Magritte to Niki de Saint Phalle. That kind of helped me understand what I like, what I don’t like. And in my own work, it allowed me to separate the wheat from the chaff: this is Mignoniste, that isn’t.

Where does Monsieur Rose come from and who is he?

P.K: Monsieur Rose is somebody who doesn’t have any sharp edges. He’s round, ample, not necessarily gendered. He has great big ears like I ought to have. And he embodies a certain paranoia, a certain angst. He wants to escape his condition.

Have you encountered any Mignoniste situations since arriving in Montreal?

P.K: Yesterday morning, while stopped at a red light, I saw a car with a bit of fabric sticking out of it. The woman who was driving had caught the end of her skirt in the door, and it was hanging out, unbeknownst to her…there’s something very moving about that scene. A Mignoniste situation is often something that the person is unaware of. In other words, it’s when we’re funny without knowing it.

Do you have any advice for Montrealers who want to delve into Mignonisme?

P.K: Examine your surroundings for something that could be heartwarming even if you never noticed it before. It could be something stuck to the face of someone who’s talking. There’s an example of a Mignoniste situation! You might say to yourself, “ah, there’s a party on your face, right there.” That’s a real-life situation that’s adorable, that’s related to ever-complex human relations, encountering Mignonisme every day. Even in arguments and conflicts, there’s always a Mignoniste element.

Le Mignonisme by Philippe Katerine

Until September 29, 2024
In the Quartier des Spectacles and downtown Montreal

View the map of Le Mignonisme by Philippe Katerine


Le Mignonisme by Philippe Katerine is a presentation of the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership with the collaboration of the rentingART agency, which organizes international touring for the Mignonisme works. This project is made possible by the financial support and cooperation of the borough of Ville-Marie, Nouveau Centre by Ivanhoé Cambridge, Tourisme Montréal, Place des Arts, Complexe Desjardins, Montréal centre-ville and the Ville de Montréal.