At the center of Into the Woods, Hinke Schreuders’s show of embroidered works at the Wetering Galerie, is a scroll-like canvas replicating the first page of a vintage Little Red Riding Hood book. The original text and crosshatched drawings of a forest, cottage, and hooded girl are executed here in pixelated cross-stitches, and the large canvas unrolls onto the floor where a bag of black phalluses rests before it. Nearby, two smaller diptychs read like illustrated page layouts of the same story. Instead of depicting Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, however, the artist has embroidered a shadowy man and a kneeling, nude woman. Her ambiguous rendition turns this children’s story on its head. We wonder whether Red has learned a lesson about disobeying her mother, or if she is not the victim, but instead the provocateur in this uncertain encounter.
Schreuders also presents an intimate series of canvases employing fashion photographs from mid-century pattern and women’s magazines. Using black ink and embroidery the artist transforms the innocuous images into unsettling vignettes resembling the more narrative fashion editorials of today. In one, a bride holding a clutch reading “bitch” cries tears of thread. In others, blackened pattern instructions become dense embroidered forests in which the fiercely dressed women appear lost.
One of the most interesting aspects of the show, for me, was Schreuders’s unconventional use of embroidery. She fashions her works on stretched, untreated painter’s canvas. Where she makes a mistake or changes her mind, the artist effectively “erases” her marks by layering canvas colored thread, instead of removing stitches. The works are well crafted and charming, if occasionally evocative of adolescent fantasy. Schreuders’s juxtapositions of implied innocence and sexuality, coyness and temerity complicate a direct reading of the works. The sweet yet seductive pieces subtly confuse notions of feminine vulnerability and reinforce the position of embroidery as an artistic medium.
(Images top-bottom: Hinke Schreuders, Works on paper #7, 2009, mixed media, 25 x 17 x 5,5 cm; Hinke Schreuders, Into the woods (once upon a time), 2009, mixed media, 325 x 225 x 60 cm; Hinke Schreuders, Works on paper #11, 2009, mixed media, 25,5 x 16 x 5,5 cm. All images courtesy of the artist and Wetering Galerie, NL)