Nick Hackworth

Sensoria, The Approach

Essays & Reviews Evening Standard

The work of London-based Dutch artist Michael Raedecker provides a fascinating insight into the power of taste and its ability to transmute the hideous into the hideously fashionable.

Using an idiosyncratic combination of sewing and painting, he depicts, in the main, landscapes and interiors. Many of these pieces are grotesque, the kind of thing you would expect to stumble across in a Mediterranean tourist town, where an enterprising artist, tired of sticking seashells on paintings, has decided to sew into them instead.

But, of course, in these days of knowing irony, the naffness of the craft aesthetic is something he is aware of and uses, craftily, to his advantage.

Not only does his sewing provide an edgy counterpoint to the dominant minimalist aesthetic, but it also, as a stereotypically feminine activity, allows him to indulge in a spot of gender bending. Thoughts of Mediterranean seashells are triggered by the change of mood in Raedecker’s work. He was short-listed for the Turner Prize in 2000 and, in that exhibition, he showed eerie landscapes and interiors, executed in muted colours, featuring, for example, isolated log cabins.

There, his sewing suggested the neurotic needlepoint of an American housewife stuck in the Mid-West. Here, of the nine paintings on show, the largest is a pink, Club Tropicana-style affair in which some cotton thread shacks stand on stilts in a vivid sea. The maritime theme appears, at first glance, to continue with the large canvas, Journeys to Glory, which resembles an aerial view of five, oddly regular fingers of land protruding into muddy waters.

On closer inspection, however (with prompting from the gallery staff), the fingers reveal themselves to be a charming collection of penises — which shows at least that Raedecker is willing to tackle a wide breadth of subject matter.

Until 13 October. Information: 020 8983 3878