New York

Merlin James

Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

In a solo exhibition last year at the New York Studio School, “Painting to Painting,” Welsh artist Merlin James made plain his process of art historical mining. In the press release, titles of works were annotated with references (“after Delacroix,” “after Corot,” and so on), and a companion website cited the sources—modernism’s gamut, from luminaries to also-rans—of a practice that in the past twenty years has encompassed portraiture, still life, interior, landscape, and abstraction. The allusions in “Paintings of Buildings,” James’s latest show at Sikkema, Jenkins & Co., were less patent but still unmissable: He nods to Andre Derain’s orderly delimitations of color in House and Tree, 2007, to Raoul Dufy’s rainbow brushiness in Shed, 2007, to Paul Klee’s pictographic denotation in House, 2007.

Klee’s simile for picture making in his 1920 “Creative Credo” offers an apt figure for the

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