MERLIN JAMES: RIVER by Merlin James
165 x 240mm, 80 pages, Full colour printed, Perfect bound, Softcover, 2021
Central to James’ recent work is the artist’s daily, nuanced awareness of the view from his home in Glasgow, looking out to the River Clyde and surrounding environments. These paintings constitute a “familiar remembered image, a cumulative memory,” incorporating all the “inaccuracies or approximations” of his own recollection.
Works like Dredge or The Window present very much a specific location, yet a sense of the artificial and the universal is carried through the imaginative scale and coloration. Painting neither directly from life nor from photographs, James draws on impressions and recollections over time to bring to life familiar spaces and the presences that populate them.
The physicality of painting remains a central focus. The raw material of canvas is frequently as integral to the complete work as the paint applied upon it. In some paintings James has made incisions to reveal the stretcher bars or contribute to imagery, while other works have semi-transparent surfaces, veiling information beneath. The stretcher (always fashioned by the artist himself) can become a visual, even sculptural feature. Idiosyncratic picture frames are also a frequent feature.