Merlin James in ‘Painting Amongst Other Things’

Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

10 August – 7 October 2018

Merlin James, Untitled, c. 2009, acrylic and mixed media, 55 x 55 cm / 21.7 x 21.7 in 

Merlin James, Work, 2012, acrylic fabric, wood frame, wood, acrylic paint, 45 x 47 cm / 17.7 x 18.5 in   

Painting amongst other things… brings together works by Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Tuttle, Raquel Ormella, Lynda Benglis, Ti Parks, Merlin James, Peter Alwast, Natasha Kidd and Karl Wiebke among others, examining how contemporary painting might be encountered within an expanded field. The exhibition juxtaposes significant historical precedents and contemporary works, showing how artists have continually reappraised the boundaries of their art by means of an engagement with “the real”.


Giving paintings the characteristics of objects, reassessing their physicality, spatializing their elements – these are well-known devices for challenging and breaking down the four-squareness of painterly autonomy. Equally relevant to this exhibition is the artists’ exploration of new media and processes, their strategies of collaboration and their radical repurposing of objects and found materials.


The ultimate significance of the works in the exhibition could be determined by their suggestion that painting, or the artist, or art itself cannot be fixed in any assigned place. Inspiration and change must be discovered through a kind of brinkmanship, in what we don’t yet understand and may not be quite ready to accept.

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