June 6, 2013 - Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art - Merlin James
June 6, 2013

Merlin James

Merlin James, Twelve, 2012. Acrylic on canvas, 59 x 63 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Kerlin Gallery, Dublin. © Merlin James.

Merlin James
6 June–10 August 2013

Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art
14 Wharf Road, London, N1 7RW
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10–6pm; Sunday 12–5pm; Monday by appointment only
Free admission

T + 44 (0)20 7490 7373
info [​at​] parasol-unit.org


Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art is delighted to present an exhibition of the work of painter Merlin James. The exhibition will focus on a selection of works ranging from the start of James’ career (the early 1980s) through to the present day. This will be the artist’s first major solo exhibition in a London institution.

James’ somewhat enigmatic paintings address a vast and eclectic range of subject matter and richly metaphoric imagery, including land- and sea-scapes, figures, and architecture and interior scenes. What they frequently have in common is their modest scale, highly considered composition and a seeming effortlessness of execution which belies their complexity. As particular and individual in their use of colour as they are distinctive in composition, James’ works interrogate traditional approaches to painting, often actively integrating the physicality of the canvas and stretcher into the composition, as well as incorporating dust, glue or debris into the surface. Heightening a sense of intentionality, or purpose, James at times cuts holes in, or adds three-dimensional objects to, the work.

James’ work often seems to comment on or make reference to modernist painting, and much that has been written about his work concentrates on his sources in art. But although he does draw on the ‘golden age’ of modern painting, and paintings by lesser known modern artists, to dwell excessively on James’ sources would be to miss altogether the intensity of the viewing experience and the ensuing intellectual challenges his work offers.  

Born in Cardiff, Wales, in 1960, Merlin James studied in London at the Central School of Art and the Royal College of Art. He currently lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland. 

This exhibition has been generously supported by Belinda de Gaudemar and Berna and Tolga Tuglular.

Related Events:

The Psychoanalysis of Making: Lecture by Prof. Margaret Iversen
Monday 10 June, 7pm
Taking the writings of art critic Adrian Stokes as its starting point, this lecture by Professor Margaret Iversen will explore the different psychodynamic relationships played out through artists’ use of carving and modelling in art-making.

Artist Talk: Merlin James
Tuesday 25 June, 7pm 
Exhibiting artist Merlin James will discuss his painting practice in relation to the artists who have influenced him. Glasgow-based James has exhibited nationally and internationally over the past two decades, and continues to lecture and write widely on the subject of painting. 

Advance booking for events is highly recommended: www.parasol-unit.org

Visitor information:
Admission to all Parasol unit exhibitions is free.
Parasol unit will be closed 11 August–17 September 2013.

Tube: Old Street or Angel
Buses: 43, 205 or 214 via City Road

About Parasol unit
Founded in December 2004, Parasol unit is a registered educational and a non-profit institution that operates purely for public benefit. The foundation curates four shows each year by international contemporary artists working in various media, and stages a number of annual artistic projects. Each exhibition is accompanied by a broad range of educational events, including a combination of talks, film, poetry, performance, family workshops and symposia. In its genuine mission to serve the public, the foundation does not bear the founder’s name and its exhibitions do not derive from any particular private collections. Admission to all exhibitions at Parasol unit is free of charge. Thanks to this innovative model between private funding and public support one of London’s most vibrant contemporary art spaces has come to exist and thrives.

For more information, please contact Gemma Colgan on 020 7490 7373, at gemma [​at​] parasol-unit.org, or go to www.parasol-unit.org

Company registration: 05299582 / Registered charity number: 1107425

Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art
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