Hyper-realistic portrait paintings that are actually embroidered masterpieces

When you first look at these artworks by Cayce Zavaglia, you'd easily mistake them for hyper-realistic paintings with beautiful brushstrokes and texture. But on closer inspection, you'll discover that these stunning portraits are in fact hand-sewn, embroidered masterpieces.

Zavaglia originally trained as a painter, but switched to embroidery 12 years ago to follow a passion for sewing. Speaking of her recent work, she said: "Over the years, I have developed a sewing technique that allows me to blend colours and establish tonalities that resemble the techniques used in classical oil painting.

"The direction in which the threads are sewn mimic the way brush marks are layered within a painting which, in turn, allows for the allusion of depth, volume, and form. My stitching methodology borders on the obsessive, but ultimately allows me to visually evoke painterly renditions of flesh, hair, and cloth."

If that wasn't enough to blow your socks off, Zavaglia also creates paintings based on the back of her embroidered portraits, with all the threads and mess sticking out of the back of the canvas. She said: "A few years ago, I turned one of my embroideries over and for the first time saw the possibilities of a new image and path for my work that had been with me in the studio for so long but had gone unnoticed. It was the presence of another portrait that visibly was so different from the meticulously sewn front image… but perhaps more psychologically profound.

"The haphazard beauty found in this verso image created a haunting contrast to the front image and was a world of loose ends, knots, and chaos that could easily translate into the world of paint.

"This discovery led to a 'return to paint' in my work and the production of a series of intimate gouache and large format acrylic paintings of these verso images. Highlighting the reverse side of my embroideries, which historically and traditionally has been hidden from the viewer, has initiated a conversation about the divergence between our presented and private selves. The production of both Recto and Verso images is now the primary focus of my studio work."

Via Cayce Zavaglia


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