James Mercer | April 2021
James J.A. Mercer works in painting, drawing, and video. His work crosses many mediums, including animation, large installations, and constant maintenance of books filled with elaborate drawings. “I paint scenes which emphasize physical, emotional, and institutional distance, inspired by the nuances of alienation in urban and suburban built environments,” notes the artist. The gridded images reflect rectangular spaces of his daily life interactions, and their flatness channels the industrial and institutional character filtered by an observable digital lens.
The artist is fascinated by the dissonance between physical material and geometric form. He uses the computer as a tool for thinking, as a means to plan images and to generate patterns that would be otherwise out of reach for a human mind. For instance, in Machine 1 and 2, he programmed a recursive division of rectangles, creating a complex mesh with an inhuman specificity. These digital drawings are paired with emphatically rough painting, creating tension and contradiction, teasing the viewer to guess the logic behind the image.
James Mercer received his bachelor’s degree in Printmaking from RISD and is currently an MFA candidate at Columbia University. The artist has exhibited widely in the US and internationally at Pioneer Works (Brooklyn), The Drawing Center (New York), Barbican (London), Steve Turner (Los Angeles), among others. In 2018, his animated videos were featured in the Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation, and he was a resident at Clocktower Productions in 2014.