Chilean artist Jose Romussi creates works that are simple in concept, yet beautifully intricate and unique. Using a needle and various, multicoloured threads, he embroiders patterns and words over photographs and magazine pages to imbue them with captivating new life – monochrome ballet dancers boast vibrant, radiating tutus and sumptuously stitched necklines; fashion shoots are given floral facelifts and portraits are enlivened by Keith Haring-esque doodles.
What? Romussi grew up in between Santiago and Valparaiso, and as a child spent spent his free time exploring the cities’ streets alone. “I was a really restless kid,” he says. “My mother was working, my father was in another country and my brothers were much older than me, so everything I learned then, I learnt by myself.” Inspired from a young age by the work of his mother, herself a painter, Romussi, who has never formally studied art, spent many years searching for a way to “represent [his] ideas through different media and techniques.” It was while experimenting with collage some years ago that he first tried his hand at weaving, and finally stumbled upon his ideal means of self-expression. “I began by embellishing my collages with thread and then moved onto photographs,” he explains. “I found it took the images into a sort of parallel zone that was somehow timeless – it’s the technique that best allows me to get my ideas across.”
Why? Now based in Berlin, Romussi first captured our attention last year, when AnOther invited him to apply his signature handwoven touch to some of our favourite archival Levi’s imagery from the 1930s, and since then he has been busily pursuing his craft. He remains an avid adventurer, and draws heavily upon his travels for inspiration: “the people and the things that I see, the landscapes, everything sneaks in to my work.” He is hesitant to describe his aesthetic, explaining his approach as a eternally evolving structure. “I guess it’s just a mixture of everything that captures my attention and it changes, like me, with time.” He is frequently experimenting with new techniques with a view to self-improvement and creating pieces that continue to spark a reaction among his viewers. “I haven’t created an artwork that I could call my favourite yet,” he says, “But I’m working on it. The main thing that matters to me with my art is that it makes people feel or think something; that is more that enough for me.”