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MERLIN JAMES Genre Paintings

Sikkema Jenkins & Co. | January 28 – March 7, 2015


Training Spontaneity Through the Intellect

Imaginary boat floating above a still life.
Concavity pressures the space of
What appears to be a cloud-like form, provides
A dry hot day to its absence.

 “Marine painting” is enigmatic.
In some instances, a sphere of melancholy is held
In a dark room with shuttered, air-tight atmosphere.
Flotsam of sawdust, matted hair, fluctuated furs are
Without specific themes, just a few identifiable objects,
Transformed into a slanted rectilinear structure
Where colors skate across a raw, sagged burlap.

Hazy climate at “Location (Corp. Building)”
Calls forth a few relatives from afar to notice
An appointment that was written on thin air.
I don’t remember the last time the painted yellow edges
Kissed balsa wood strips in public!

Everything is pitched for an ideal scale. “Untitled” is more
Or less a Leviathan/Sphinx mandating a social contract through the
Union of human sexes, if you and she take care to look at it.

Elsewhere mosquitoes are kept away from his “Bamboo Frame.”
Precious air arises from a murky sky
Transcending a joyous affair of melted grid in RED.
An occasionally torn, ripped, abraded surface punctures his dismay,
Evoke a STIGMATA of quiet pleasure.

 “Cappriccio” is more naughty than initially apparent!
Imperceptible traces of a remarkable imprint
Suggest a ghostly rectangle in the center
 That echoes the political silhouettes of Mario Sironi’s robust factories.
SI SEMPRE FORTE, as they insist!

Here he refers to a familiar motif as an “Old Fortified Building.”
Morandi would have bowed between the doors to his sister’s room
And the kitchen. Elsewhere my favorite “Old Kiln” defers once again
To the absent old magician
With his newest interpretation of Leonardo’s SFUMATO.

Is it untrue that only a few of us can recall the graceful bent of a
“Silver Birch” dancing with its small shadow?
Is his signature discrete in “Sunset”?
Is upside-down the right side up in “By Marches”?

What keeps me near enough to relish my closeness
To “Old Portico” is the Doric columns of
My ancestor’s home, built to last a life time.
Just like the “Willow” tree, with arms
That refuse to anthropomorphize into Pollaiuolo’s Daphne.

While “Bridge and Building” reminisces the old dispute
Between Whistler and Ruskin
That led to an infamous libel trial,
Which lasted only a matter of hours,
We remember the “cool” alienation that had
To shake hands with “hot” temper.
Still, Medea will always resent the republican Athenian Jason:
The first and last schizoid phase of CELESTIAL BENEVOLENCE.


Merlin James, “Silver Birch” (2014–15). Acrylic on canvas, 33×32 ̋. Signed on front and back.

Merlin James, “Marine Painting” (2014–15). Acrylic on canvas, 28×21 ̋. Signed on front and back.


Phong Bui

Phong H. Bui is the Publisher and Artistic Director of the Brooklyn Rail.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2015

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