Embroidery is something that gets us hot under the collar at YGT, and we’re not talking DIY infomercials or olde worlde tapestries either. We’re talking about Peruvian artist Ana Teresa Barboza, who creates 3D textile-based artworks that explore human intimacy and female identity, switching from adorable to desperately dark with a veritably chilling suddenness.
Needlework is a medium that has seen it all, and one that has well and truly withstood the test of time. Once demoted to the realm of the humble church pew cushion, embroidery has made a contemporary comeback and Ana Teresa uses it to explore a full range of human emotion.
In one of her stunning pieces the outline of a girl wrestles with an impeccably detailed deer. In another naked bodies lie under a blanket of vibrant summer flowers, this print really displays the delicate skill of the artist. Elsewhere, images take an unsettling turn as in another of Ana Teresa’s pieces a woman pulls at a needle and thread embroidering her own breast, and another is midway through sewing a floral pattern into her stomach.
In perhaps the goriest piece, a woman tears the threads out of her own arm, leaving bloody gashes and trailing red and flesh-coloured threads out of the frame where they drip to the floor. This stuff is raw. Through a simple three dimensional image you almost feel the pain and desperation of the subjects, and trust us, it sticks with you for days.
Then again, there are plenty of other creations that evoke awe and delight, like a sea-scene gushing out of its frame in a metatheatrical fashion. Some of this artist’s work plays around with slightly sick humour, as an embroidered man is graphically gnawed on by the cutest fabric jungle animals.
This is certainly work with a personality complex, but above all else, it’s beautiful, expertly formed artwork that provokes emotional responses. You couldn’t really ask for more from a piece of embroidery.