Altoon Sultan blogs about the exhibition Merlin James: Genre Paintings at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, on view through March 7, 2015.
Sultan writes that the show "was a wonderful surprise for me ... I hadn't seen his work before, and when I looked at the show online it seemed to me to be too much of a grab bag of styles and ideas and subject matter and form; this made it look as though it were held together solely by an intellectual construct, a theoretical way of approaching painting, a high-handed cleverness. Oh, how wrong my assessment was! I have several times been disappointed by seeing work in person that I very much liked online, but I don't remember such a turnabout from skepticism to love when in front of actual work. It is the quality of the paint––its searched-for texture and touch––and the artist's sensibility, that pulls it all together into a celebration of painting."