Merlin James, Long Game
OCT Boxes Art Museum, Shunde, China
23 March – 20 May 2018
"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 reoccurringly difficult, while never parading difficultness.”
James lives and works in Glasgow. Recent solo exhibitions CCA Glasgow (2016); Kunstverein Freiburg (2014); Parasol Unit, London; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2013); Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2012, 2015); New York Studio School (2007); Kettle's Yard, Cambridge (1996) and National Gallery, Wales (1995). In 2007, James represented Wales at the 52nd Venice Biennale. He has been a visiting lecturer at many universities in Britain and the USA and in 2002, he was the first holder of the Alex Katz Chair in Painting at The Cooper Union, New York.
The exhibition was coordinated by The Oil Painting Department Curatorial Group of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, consulting with the Art and Culture Innovation Research and Development Center of Sun Yat-sen University. The exhibition is in gratitude to large-scale support from the government of Shunde government. It will run through May 20, 2018, with free access for the public.