Long Game: Merlin James, the first major solo exhibition in China by the well-known British artist Merlin James, will open on 23 March 2018 at Boxes Art Museum in China. Curated by Darragh Hogan, Long Game: Merlin James is hosted by Boxes Art Museum, co-hosted by Kerlin Gallery, Dublin and OCT Art and Design Gallery, Shenzhen.
Long Game: Merlin James provides a survey of James’s long career to date, featuring 83 artworks, including 34 paintings and 49 drawings, that span over 30 years of the artist’s work and present a diverse selection of genres, styles and subjects. The exhibition brings together two important but distinct strands of James’ work. First, a substantial selection of James’ ‘frame paintings’, each painted on a light, gauzy material stretched over an ornate wooden frame. Acting like windows, this body of work has a lightness and fragility that finds its counterpoint in the second group of paintings on display, the ‘black paintings’ – dense and self-contained works of acrylic on canvas. The latter work in loose daubs of paint or equip broad sweeps of charcoal on paper, they pinpoint isolated details from rural or semi-rural landscapes: a house with stacked chimneys; a bird landing on a branch; the occasional, isolated figure.
In his book Painting Per Se, James writes a description of his admired forebear, the American painter Alex Katz, that could be equally applied to his own work: “His paintings are never repetitive, though they do not seek novelty; they are never cynical, though utterly disabused; they are always restless, strenuous and re-occurringly difficult, while never parading difficulties.”
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