Jose Romussi’s Embroidered Photographs Play with Culture and Beauty

by Roxanne GoldbergPosted on

Chilean artist Jose Romussi adds embroidery to paper photographs to extract a third dimension, and thus a nascent personality, out of an otherwise flat image. By doing so, Romussi opens space for alternative interpretations and methods of viewing a staged image. The artist refers to his work as an “intervention,” and in many ways, his intentions are similar to other contemporary artists who use yarn as a method of interrupting the norm. Like “Yarn Bombing,” which is often performed as a softer act of graffiti in public places, Romussi’s compositions attempt to re-define notions of beauty while simultaneously drawing attention to social issues, such as the re-appropriation of African patterns and other non-Western traditions in high fashion.

When the self-taught artist began working in 2010, he added pops of color to ballerina tutus, suggesting his interest mostly lay in aesthetic beauty. However, Romussi has evolved in recent years to adopt a more critical stance. For example, Surrealist-inspired, Basquiat-tinged images showing the skeletal systems of his subjects are literal interpretation of the adage “beauty is only skin deep.” Furthermore, the images featuring multiple, staring eyes may be considered critiques on the hyper-focus contemporary society places on external appearances.

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