Unraveling Ideals: Michael Raedecker at Andrea Rosen Gallery

Ah, suburban serenity, with its cookie-cutter domiciles by day and its after-hour socials. Michael Raedecker has worked from this bland utopia for years, picking it out in thread on monochromatic canvases. In tour, his latest exhibition at Andrea Rosen Gallery, he assumes an actively abstract relationship, cutting and resewing embroidered canvases into flitting memories and fitful dreams. — Brian Fee, Austin contributor

Michael Raedecker | place, 2013, acrylic and thread on canvas, 69 x 102 3/8 inches. © Michael Raedecker, courtesy of the artist and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.

I envy art-lovers who have followed Raedecker's decade-plus career, particularly those attending his mid-career survey at the Wilhelm-Hack Museum in Ludwigshafen later this year. Even spanning his three exhibitions I've witnessed in New York since 2006 (his current show, tour, is his fifth solo with the gallery), I've sense a progression: from the “dirty” still lives of 2006 to desiccated riches in 2009. Each with increasingly monochromatic, washed-out acrylic backdrops, each rendered vividly in Raedecker's signature thread. Despite his early fashion background (Raedecker trained at the distinguished Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam in the mid-'80s and worked for a time with Maison Martin Margiela in Paris), Raedecker's use of needlepoint as compositional tool isn't simply a linear given. As he stated in an interview with AnOther Magazine last year, “I wanted to fight the commonly held ideas of fine art, I wanted to kick against it and make something unholy. Combining a folksy, feminine craft with traditional painting was such a huge discovery for me, controversial and rebellious — it was definitely my 'eureka' moment.” tour focuses his imagery rubric to three: the recurring bungalow, idyllic palm trees, and glitzy chandeliers, each bisected, interrupted — but always activated — by Raedecker's cut and restitched canvas interventions.

Michael Raedecker | tour (installation view), Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York. September 7 – October 5, 2013. © Michael Raedecker, photograph taken by Lance Brewer, courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.

Michael Raedecker | blink, 2012, acrylic and thread on canvas, 71 x 103 1/8 inches. © Michael Raedecker, courtesy of the artist and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.

From across the gallery, place mimics Claude Monet's water lilies, a flotilla of flipped houses floating placidly on a sea of midnight blue. There are several instances of solid color, like in the fondant texture of stage in the back gallery, but for the most part Raedecker coats his canvases with a thin, brushy layer of acrylic, producing dry surfaces for the congealed paint to collect and glisten on exposed threads. Our eyes remain restless as they scan these uneven surfaces, immersed in the acrylic's chromatic qualities and jolted by sutured canvas. Raedecker enlarges and doubles the chandelier on blink, trifurcating the composition like a skipping film reel. A tight cosmos of jagged thread on the lower left portion and the ghostly house-like image on the lower right, in its own reattached piece, suggest eerie remnants of some all-night bash against the silver haze.

Michael Raedecker | order, 2012-13, acrylic and thread on canvas, 60 7/8 x 48 5/8 inches. © Michael Raedecker, courtesy of the artist and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.

Michael Raedecker | tour (installation view), Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York. September 7 – October 5, 2013. © Michael Raedecker, photograph taken by Lance Brewer, courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.

Raedecker adheres to a drained palette throughout tour. Beyond the aforementioned place and the uneasy iciness of match (itself containing the most unadulterated bungalows of the show), he plays between the metallic patina of the chandelier compositions and irregularly abstract houses of parade and a group of varyingly blackish canvases in the back. The sole instance of palm trees mimic deactivated neon signage in charcoal-colored order, while a thick black stitched field infringes on both the large central cabin of ground and its ghostly gray background. ground's articulated seam is assertive enough to downplay Raedecker's go-to imagery, as does its neighbor, the appropriately wildly abstract wild walls, half-composed houses obliterated by strong vertical seams. Perhaps Raedecker is reminding us that the image itself is less important than the final composition and our emotional ties to it. By ripping apart and “repairing” his stitched canvases, the artist compels us to reconsider the familiar and the comfortable in our greater worldview.

Michael Raedecker | ground, 2013, acrylic and thread on canvas, 51 3/8 x 45 inches. © Michael Raedecker, courtesy of the artist and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.

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Michael Raedecker was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1963 and currently lives and works in London. He studied at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam (1993 – 1994), and at Goldsmiths College, London (1996 – 1997). In 2000, Raedecker was shortlisted for the prestigious Turner Prize. Recent solo exhibitions include volume at Hauser & Wirth, London (2012); Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin (2010); and line-up which opened at Camden Arts Centre, London, England (2009) and travelled to Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, Netherlands (2009) and Carré d’Art – Musée d'Art Contemporain de Nîmes (2010). Raedecker's solo exhibition tour continues at Andrea Rosen Gallery through October 5.

Brian Fee is an art punk based currently in Austin, TX, but he can usually be found in New York, Tokyo, or Berlin, depending on the art season.

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