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Merlin James, House in Marshes, 2011, mixed media on MDF, 23 5/8 x 31 1/8".

Merlin James

Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire

Merlin James, House in Marshes, 2011, mixed media on MDF, 23 5/8 x 31 1/8".

Spanning more than fifteen years, the twenty-one works collected in Merlin James’s exhibition “Painting” epitomize his signature blend of dizzyingly diverse subjects, styles, and techniques. From a faux-naive still life with bird rendered in thick earth tones, Male Bird (Pecking), 2008–11, to a minimalist study in turquoise just barely suggesting architecture (Building, 2008); from Untitled, 2009, a gritty close-up of a sex act, to Burn and Grotto, ca. 2000–2009, an abstract diptych that has been burned, punctured, and collaged, James—an art critic as well as a painter—is consistent only in his determination to eschew genre, comparison, and easy description.

Included in this roundup were five “frame paintings,” made on sheer nylon or polyester sheets through which the frame’s infrastructure (screws, staples, stretcher bars) as well as added decorative objects are visible.

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