Motif: by Vladimir Leben
Type: Embroidered painting
Technique: Mixed embroidery
Year: 2017
Edition: Limited (20)

Size: Medium
Dimension: 72 x 67 cm | 28.3 x 26.4 in
Number of stitches: over 1.1 mio
Thread length: over 14 km | over 8.7 mi
Thread colours: 64
Development: over 400 person hours


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About the artwork

Moscow stray dogs commute every day from the city suburbs to its centre, for their daily meal. To persuade people to give them food, sometimes they need to look miserable and beg, while other times they have to scare someone to drop their lunch. And after a hard day’s work, the dogs take the subway again, heading back home.

Update is the excerpt of extra big format embroidery titled After a Hard Day’s Work. After a Hard Day’s Work embroidery is a part of embroidered triptych titled A Dog’s Life. It tells a story of dogs from Moscow suburbs that have learnt how to use the subway and commute to the city centre to find food. Accompanied by embroidered bench, the four art pieces form an installation of a railway station.

Due to its extreme richness in content and in details, the finished artworks themselves have prompted the idea of producing a limited-edition series of smaller works, all based on details from original works. Combined, the excerpts (titled Upload, Backup and Update) retain the message of the original triptych.

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.


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