Series: Dancing Bears
Motif: by Vladimir Leben
Type: Embroidered painting
Technique: Mixed embroidery
Year: 2018
Edition: Unique

Size: Large
Dimension: 143 x 205 cm | 56.3 x 80.7 in
Number of stitches: over 8.5 mio
Thread length: over 101 km | over 62.8 mi
Thread colours: 57
Development: over 1700 person hours

Price: on request

About the artwork

The central piece of the installation “Dancing Bears” is large, embroidered painting that focuses on the satirical depiction of the tragic dancing bears of Eastern Europe, which were often abused for human amusement. In this rendition, however, the bears are dancing happily in a nightclub, each bear showing off his skills on the dance floor, lit by disco lights and reflections of large disco ball, which illuminates entire dance floor like a giant golden sun, hanging above the bears. The forced perspective which places us, the viewers, next to the disco ball and above the bears, creates an illusion of an almost religious trance-like dance, bears raising their hands towards the sky, towards imaginary freedom.

The embroidered piece emphasizes the story by stretching the embroidery on a frame that bulges out at all four sides as if the powerful bass sounds of disco music shape the very reality in which bears are dancing. This effect is doubly enhanced by subtle colour transitions of the dark background, which is almost imperceivably slightly less dark in the center of the dance floor, and transitions to a deep black at the edges of the piece. Such subtleties were once considered impossible to create in an embroidery, but Ercigoj’s layering techniques make even the hardest motifs possible in the medium of colourful threads.

About the artist

Vladimir Leben is drawing moral lessons from animals as examples. He is not inspired by their outer appearance of furs and feathers – of their exact anatomy in a way a naturalist would be. Instead, he portrays them as protagonists in stylized situations that have coded meaning. For this a viewer has to know background of a particular story, often a tragic one. His favourite subjects are underdogs – usually in the appearance of bears and dogs. They are presented as sentient beings, man’s interlocutors and points of identification. Being soft animals with innocent eyes, helps them to get their message across, and builds viewers emotions and empathy.

Born in 1971 in Celje. Studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana. He is co-founder of the Museum of Too Modern Art – a unique movement in Slovenian art history. He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions with Galapagos project as one of the most successful. He is also an awarded Illustrator and maker of animated films.


Extraordinary number of stitches

In a classic embroidery, the number of stitches is somewhere between 20,000 and 200,000, and is limited by stretching and contracting of materials. By overcoming this limitations, we are able to make embroideries with millions of stitches which enables us to produce photorealistic embroideries and recreate any painting of any artistic style.

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.