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Merlin James, Mixing It Up: Painting Today

'Mixing It Up' brings together 31 contemporary painters who exploit the unique characteristics of their medium to create fresh, compelling works of art that speak to this moment.

Approaching painting as a platform for speculative thinking and unexpected conversations, the artists in this exhibition make works that oscillate between observation and invention, depiction and allegory, illusion and materiality.

Instead of trying to craft iconic images, they treat the canvas as a site of assemblage where references converge from diverse territories including music, design, advertising, vernacular and documentary photography, viral memes, fashion and cinema, as well as art history.

Resonantly ambiguous, their paintings invite viewers to recruit their own imaginations in working out different ways to interpret them, while often questioning how their social reception might shift among different audiences.

Instead of seeming like the most conservative and traditional art form, this kind of painting is arguably the most conceptually adventurous. It draws on the power of the medium to both transfix us and to undo our ingrained ways of seeing and thinking.

Featuring three generations of artists who live and work here, Mixing It Up highlights the UK’s emergence as a vital international centre of contemporary painting.

Images

Merlin James
Two Figures, 2020
acrylic and mixed materials
124.5 x 174.6 cm / 49 x 68.75 in