One of the most unique embroideries in the world, The Bench by Vladimir Leben is life-size and trompe-l’oeil in execution. The work plays with the idea of ready-made but it turns this art concept on its head. What on the first glance looks like a decrepit piece of street furniture (complete with dog piss marks and a piece of glued bubble gum on the bottom side of the seat) turns out to be a perfectionist study of surface. The object’s skin is minutely remade in a luxuriously embroidered medium. The effect is striking, as unbelieving eyes investigate from up close, while hands dare to caress gentle stitch work. The whole experience is a kind of meditation on objects that are plain, utilitarian and usually ignored. The artist Vladimir Leben, like an alchemist, turns a low-key commodity – a simple bench – into something priceless and sublime.
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.
Extra big formats
The main problem of big format embroideries are material contractions that make it difficult to correctly position all the details of a motif. To overcome such deformations and other problems, over decades of creating big embroideries, we have developed technical and software solutions that enable us to deliver perfect embroideries of any dimensions and number of stitches.
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.