An exhibition of new still life paintings by Washington DC area artist Erin Raedeke.
Erin Raedeke’s paintings spring from still life tableaux that she assembles in her studio. The scenes make extensive use of objects the artist has chosen, such as patterned fabrics and party paraphernalia, as well as other studio detritus such as empty coffee cups and fast food containers, pill bottles and spiral bound notebooks.
Earlier paintings included in the exhibition offer us a moment frozen in time. In Frayed (2015), crinkled wrapping paper and ribbon, empty party bags, a party hat, a half-eaten treat and crumbs are strewn across a floral print tablecloth. In Done For (2017) it appears that another party has just concluded, with a birthday candle, used matches and popped balloons scattered over a bright pink background. In each of these compositions, there are objects that don’t appear to belong: a dead bird, a pill bottle, a pair of scissors, each imbuing the work with a not-so-straightforward narrative. Many of these props recur in paintings over a span of years, with the patterned fabric backdrops becoming the focus in Raedeke’s more recent work.
The artist’s recent series of smaller works on panel and large-scale paintings on canvas push the boundary between abstraction and representation. Each painting holds the trace of an action Raedeke has taken on fabrics that she has layered together, such as making tears and then re-stitching areas back together, marking the fabric with brush strokes or pencil marks, leaving drips and smudges, or strips of duct tape and burnt holes. In Play Along (2018), the artist has draped white nylon mesh fabric over a cobalt blue backdrop, into which she has torn or burnt holes, or added marks of color. From afar, the blue shapes created by the torn areas pop out of the white background. Upon close inspection, the fabric’s subtle details become recognizable, and one can get lost in the play of light and shadow upon the tiny holes inherent to the fabric, which the artist has painstakingly recreated.
While Raedeke’s paintings are well executed exercises in color, light and mark marking, there is a violence to the artist’s alterations of her source materials that belies the traditional parameters of perceptual painting. They simultaneously serve as wonderful examples of observational painting as well as vital investigations into the deeply psychological associations we have with objects. “Thoughts, memories and past experiences are scavenged through in an effort to find meaning and uncover connections,” asserts Raedeke. She further suggests, “Everything has meaning. Seemingly random objects we encounter, no matter how unceremoniously, hold a flood of associations and truths buried in the sub conscience. The only way to tease them out is through sensitive observation and suspension of prejudice.”