In Merkel´s view, the numerous issues that arise in the presentation and reception in painting – color, contrast, figure/background, surface/line, texture, gesture realism/abstraction – are complex and cannot be interpreted or resolved using traditional approaches or methods. Every partial solution can have ramifications on the whole painting, thus leading to new problems. He has been exploring these challenges in his practice for over thirty years. His earliest exhibitions positioned themselves against the auraticisation of individual paintings by using unorthodox installations such as clusters, blocks and series of images while self-consciously addressing their character as a specific form of showing.
These image installations culminated in his 1988 solo exhibition at the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen in Düsseldorf, where he presented twenty-five large format paintings on a single wall of the otherwise empty exhibition space, transforming the paintings within this “hyper-frame” into a single image.
Influences by the ongoing crises of the artistic, economic and ideological spheres ,a sharp rupture could be witnessed in his painting practice, a turn that would open up unexpected perspectives and potentials with regard to what can be negotiated in a image beyond the “Crisis of Representation”.