Series: Dancing Bears
Motif: by Vladimir Leben
Type: Furniture
Technique: Mixed embroidery
Year: 2019
Edition: Unique

Size: Large
Dimension: 117 x 98 x 58 cm | 46.1 x 38.6 x 22.8 in
Number of stitches: over 2.8 mio
Thread length: over 30 km | over 18.6 mi
Thread colours: 40
Development: over 1300 person hours

Price: on request

About the artwork

An integral part of the “Dancing Bears” art installation and an extension of the motif, depicted on the central embroidered painting, is the unique wooden hard oak cupboard. The cupboard doors are embroidered panels showing a bear DJ-ing above the dance floor with a pair of turntables. Designed in the same unique style as the main art piece, the cupboard DJ bear motif is limited to black background and brown bear contours with golden highlights, with red and cyan spots of light reflected from the disco ball. It perfectly complements the embroidered painting in style and function.

The oak cupboard is an artisanal product designed by the Ercigoj team and perfectly shaped, carved and cut from hard oak by artisanal carpenter Miran Pešič Pešo from Ljubljana. He took the finest oak wood, meticulously carved curves of the pillars and thick wooden boards, and assembled heavy cupboard as a demonstration of precision artisanal approach that is his signature. The cupboard holds many small surprises. There is a special hinge system designed by Ercigoj that allows the doors to open unhindered and which overcomes the massive oak pillars and the bulging shape of the cupboard (which is a design detail taken from the main art piece). And, of course, door knobs are shaped (and positioned) as mixing table volume knobs, doubling as aesthetic parts of the embroidered art and as a functional detail of the cupboard.

The cupboard was designed to be a true High Fidelity audiophile cupboard, with large surface on top for a high-quality turntable (we chose a vintage Kuzma audiophile turntable, which matches the style of the cupboard well), a very heavy and stable base for the turntable (the cupboard weighs almost 100 kilograms), and compartments inside for a high-fidelity stereo system and vinyls.

The cupboard is complemented with complete audiophile system for playing limited edition Dancing Bears vinyl, including vintage Kuzma turntable, a stereo amplifier and audiophile stereo speakers by Ubiq audio. All have been enhanced with unique embroidered mesh dust covers that complement art piece’s black background, while allowing a complete pass-through of sound with embroidered mesh. Ercigoj developed it specifically for this project, and is an amazingly innovative approach to embroidery – creating an embroidered surface with no backing material, only with embroidery 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.