These days, you don’t have to be an heir to the throne to justify having your portrait done, nor do you don’t need a royal inheritance to pay for one. Why? Because more and more contemporary artists are loosening up classical portraiture, divesting the genre of its stuffy elitism and stratospheric prices.
That’s why I plan on having my face stitched on fabric.
Call me crazy, but when I find the funds to immortalize my mug, I’m going the way of the needle— and I know who’s going to do the stitching!
For years I’ve admired the work of French artist Justin Morin. Using embroidery as his main medium, Morin makes art out of different types of threads. From chunky macramé sculptures and hand-embroidered stickers to Birkin bags stitched in silk on cotton fabric, he gives a conceptual dimension to handicrafts by modernizing their subjects and settings.
“It all started with the notion of the link; how relationships between people are created, how they cross one another, come together and come apart. The vocabulary used to explain these ideas resonated for me visually in thread,” says the 29-yr-old artist.
Ignoring his professors’ protests, Morin taught himself how to embroider while studying at the Beaux Art in Metz. Shedding embroidery’s image as an outdated minor craft, he’s refreshed its status by giving it a chic, contemporary context in which to thrive.
Since moving to Paris in 2003, Morin has pioneered a new portrait style that’s best described as experimental realism with a tactile twist. Combining digital photography with state-of-the-art textile design, Morin uses needles, thread and a kaleidoscopic range of color to freeze faces in time. A crafty confluence of fast and slow techniques give his canvases a super sleek, handmade feel, one that begins with a photography session in Morin’s apartment and ends in an atelier in Belgium with a 12-needle industrial sewing machine.
What makes embroidered canvasses so special is the behavior of the thread. The same thread stitched in one direction will change color when stitched in another because it catches the light differently.
For example, Morin’s all-white portrait prototype looks metallic, off-white, gray and creamy at times, but the colors are just an illusion: the entire portrait is made out of the same exact white thread.
Even though the canvases are in 2-D, the fluctuations of light on the surface of the thread create a hologram effect that makes the embroidery just jump off the canvas. You can’t get that with painting and drawings. So if you’re like me and love the notion of one-of-a-kind portraits that pop, Morin is the man to stitch your mug.
Prices: 1500€ for still lives, 2200€ for portraits
Approx canvas size: 50x60cm
Contact: send me an email to be put in touch with Justin
If in Paris be sure to check out this group show curated by Justin Morin:
“Scales of the universe, the definition of the frontier”
Featuring work by: Claire Decet, Samuel François, Corentin Grossmann, Justin Morin, Sandra Przyczynski and Markus Zimmermann
Galerie Jeanroch Dard, 13 rue des arquebusiers, 75003 Paris
June 27th through July 31st, 2009.
Opening party: June 27th from 18h – 21h