Hong Kong 12 December 2014
For a first-time viewer a possible problem is not the realization that there are many layers, but not knowing how to use them. Someone with a vague knowledge of his work, based on gossip and internet material, would likely be puzzled and rather discouraged by a Merlin Carpenter exhibition when faced with all too obvious references that leap out but that seem to conceal others. The viewer would also be intrigued by the pure aesthetic of Carpenter's paintings, often visually pleasant. Think of the current show DECADES: a series of paintings of degraded popularised versions of Warhol. Carpenter's press releases, which are informative and quite candidly literal, would only cause further disquiet, because the viewer can feel the obliqueness of the explanation. But it is necessary to work with this discouragement as a prerequisite. This is what Carpenter sets out to achieve. In fact we need to find another level...