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Pan and the Maiden: Hand Embroidery by Adipocere

Melbourne-based embroidery artist Adipocere, whose exquisite fabric works I posted about previously, is a needlecrafter of a marvelous magnitude and takes this medium to a whole new level. These pieces are lovely, tender, humorous, macabre and subtly disturbing.

“Adipocere” refers to a wax-like organic substance which is formed by bacterial hydrolysis of body fat in corpses. A fitting pseudonym for this artist of the jauntily grotesque. Adipocere is a devotee of Surrealism and stop-motion animation (their favorite film being the stop-motion short The Street of Crocodiles by the Quay Brothers, based on the incandescent 1934 short story of the same title by Bruno Schulz), and experimented in other mediums before taking to needle and thread. Adipocere had their debut solo show, I do not exist, at the Beinart Gallery in Melbourne, Australia in December of 2017.

Danse macabre, Death and the Maiden, the occult, and similar themes inspire these stitched artworks on natural linen (and sometimes on the artist’s skin). The raven-haired maidens/witches of this delicate textile world go about partially eviscerated, cavort with giant black cats, are lovingly embraced or menaced by leering skeletons, or caught in webs in a complex, oft-ambiguous relationship between worshiper and idol, victim and destroyer. Spiders, moths, bats, skulls, Satanic goats, exposed anatomy, and deadly flora abound in Adipocere’s dark, minimal yet suggestive vision.

This artwork uses “motifs and symbolism to delineate concepts such as martyrdom, asceticism, existentialism, and the eventuality of death.” It also has touches of irony, an element of camp and retro charm. Adipocere breathes new life into a great-grandmotherly medium that has traditionally been very sedate and by no means overimaginative, turning it into something irreverent and intriguing.

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