Series: Stories from beehive front panels
Motif: by Matej Metlikovič
Type: Embroidered painting
Technique: Mixed embroidery
Year: 2013 - ongoing
Edition: Limited (30)

Size: Small
Dimension: 32 x 14 cm | 12.6 x 5.5 in
Number of stitches: over 170,000
Thread length: over 2 km | over 1.2 mi
Thread colours: 22
Development: over 50 person hours


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About the artwork

Painted beehive front panels are autochthonous part of Slovene cultural heritage. First ones were done by Slovene peasants in the 18th century and used to carry solely religious motifs, however, in the 19th century, beekeepers turned toward secular depictions, too. Through the last decade, many Slovene painters revive this, almost forgotten art by recreating old motifs in their own modern styles, part of this being a series of beehive front panel embroideries, done by Ercigoj art in cooperation with numerous Slovene artists.

Biblical motifs are prevalent on traditional beehive front boards, and Matej Metlikovič, known for his ecclesiastical works of art, designed this colourful motif, incorporating symbols of faith into the colour background with flowing contours.

About the artist

The main artistic impulse of Matej Metlikovič is human and divine love, passion and compassion. As an eminent master of sacred art, he has been recognised mainly for his religious commissions of liturgical embroidery in the form of paraments and chasubles, and stained-glass windows. His works span from the intimate vignettes and illustrations to the large-scale interventions in architecture. His fields of colour lines and zips are charged with energy and he uses visual inventions of modernist masters like Henri Matisse or Barnett Newman. His pictorial contents are almost always recognisable and organised in stylised pictorial archetypes.

Born in 1956 in Kranj. Earned a bachelor and master’s degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana. His works are kept in collections in Slovenia, Croatia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Canada. Has been a member of International Society of Christian Artists (SIAC) since 1992.


Innovation of layering

We layer multiple colours of threads and so create rich embroidery and colour texture that is impossible to create with classic one-layer embroidery technique. By layering, we develop colour transitions and shadowing, by which we create multiple-colour surfaces, similar to pointillism painting.

Smooth transitions and shading

By intertwining threads of endless colours and creating colour transitions, we can shape soft shadows, make one surface transition into another and mix colours into an endless multitude of hues. This way, we can also recreate motives from photographs and sophisticated art paintings which wouldn’t be possible with classic embroidery technique, using vector surfaces.

Sophisticated colour calibration

Usually in embroidery, 10 or 20, maybe 30 colours of threads are used. We use around 1,000 colour hues and if a colour still doesn’t match the desired one, we create it by layering and colour transitions. We have digitally scanned colours of all threads by using a spectrograph, so we can colour match any colour from an original material or from CMYK, RGB or Pantone colour schemes.

A Wedding Kiss

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