Berlin-based multimedia artist Jose Romussi has an ambivalent, push-and-pull relationship with photography; for Anti-Serie, he appropriates found fashion and beauty photographs and overlays them opaque embroidery that alternately reinforces and subverts the intentions and emotional currents of the original image.
While he began simply by painting on pictures culled from both new and used glossies found in shops and at the marketplace, Romussi found that only embroidery could live up to the surrealist daydreams held within his mind’s eye. The selection of a specific base photo is a process in itself—he follows instincts and is drawn to images that are enough of a blank slate that they can be entirely transmogrified with thread—followed by a period of sketching over the image before the actual embroidery begins, either by sewing machine or by hand.
In many ways, Romussi sees his work as a collision between disparate forms and content: the softness of thread meets the mechanical click of a shutter; geometric patterns become superimposed over organic curves. When asked about his core collection of leitmotifs—eyes, passages of text, abstract, cubistic figures—Romussi suggests that they’re employed not to harmonize but to contend with the original image. Where the beauty shot is refined and polished, the artist’s shapes tap into something more primal and archetypal, envisioning that which cannot be photographed.
Romussi works deliberately but spontaneously; sometimes, he’ll embroider words from a song as it plays in the studio background or a stream of consciousness and it flickers in and out of his psyche. Sometimes, his shapes are drawn from memory, a shadow of the architecture and atmosphere of a place he visited in his travels long ago.
All images © Jose Romussi