This is a large beige painting of a cropped suburban landscape. Portrait in format, it is dominated by its foreground area of poured paint out of which short lengths of khaki-coloured threads protrude. Green and pink threads have been stitched into the canvas in this area to represent flowers and, perhaps, grass. The upper third of the canvas is occupied by the sketched outline of a building resembling a house and adjoining garage. It is modern in style (1970s) and mainly concealed by a long brick wall, parallel to a long, sloping roof. The opening of the garage, partially outlined by two narrow strips of wood veneer glued onto the canvas, is the main focal point of the painting. Outlines of the roof, chimney, walls and driveway are delineated by lines of bobbly brown wool. Plants growing around the base of the garage are suggested by stitched brown yarns in co-ordinating tones. The building and its driveway, the sky behind it and the piece of open ground in front of it are all the same beige colour, only distinguished from each other by added texture. In the sky, bits of fibre have been incorporated into the washes of paint. On the house, lines of bricks and shadows, resulting from the roof overhang, have been drawn using parallel lines of fine thread stitched through the canvas. In the foreground area the blending and cracking of the paint has created the appearance of a vast muddy pool, dotted with the emerging plant details. Raedecker has been making paintings incorporating thread since 1993. He has explained:
Working with thread is something that’s become my technique. Using it is sometimes quite elaborate ... I think of it like building ... memory from the recollection of influences from the past, in the present, maybe even building the future. I think if I had embroidered the whole image then I would go too far, it would really be too much like craft or folk art ... there are certain details which are important so they deserve more work and more detail. Others are empty. There are things happening on the surface of the overall image which hopefully make your eye float around the image ... I always try to find different means for how to use thread ... I don’t fill everything in. I leave room for the viewer to step into the image.
(Quoted in Die Young Stay Pretty
Raedecker’s paintings typically depict landscapes and modern interiors, always eerily devoid of humans or animals. His colours are muted and cool in tone – blues, greens, greys, browns, beige and white. To make a painting, Raedecker alternately suspends the canvas vertically in space, allowing him to pass threads through it with ease, and lays it down flat in order to paint on it. Dilute acrylic is applied in thin washes or, in a thicker state, is poured creating organic pools and blobs. The drying process of the poured acrylic creates unpredictable effects, which the artist enjoys. Stitched threads and scattered fibres matt into layers of the paint and emerge from it. Natural and synthetic yarns and fibres are mixed with such decorative elements as sequins and, occasionally as in this painting, narrow strips of wood veneer of the type used to cover the surface of furniture and panelling. The paintings convey moods ranging from melancholy to the vaguely sinister. Their restrained colours and at times desolate emptiness contrast with the tactility of the materials, resulting in an enigmatic sense of unease. Common to post 1950s suburbia throughout the western world, the architectural features and compromised natural environments in Raedecker’s paintings stem from the artist’s childhood and adolescence. Born and bred in Holland, he has described that country as a ‘false landscape’ (quoted in Turner Prize 2000, [p.9]). Although buildings in his paintings are accurately delineated according to perspectival rules, the landscape is often viewed from strange angles, creating unreal spaces, the stuff of dreams. The title, overnight, would seem to indicate a sleeping house, the contents of which the viewer may only imagine. The shadows under the house’s eaves indicate moonlight, but no moon or even sky is portrayed.
Raedecker specifies that his titles should be all lower case letters because for him, a title is ‘just a word’ associated with the image of the painting (quoted from an unpublished conversation with the artist, 16th October 2002), rather than a proper name.
Die Young Stay Pretty, exhibition catalogue, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London 1998, pp.7,8 and 42-5
Michael Raedecker: extract, exhibition catalogue, Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven 1999, reproduced (colour) p.17
Turner Prize 2000, exhibition brochure, Tate Britain 2000, [pp.8-9]