German painter Klaus Merkel has developed a practice of breaking painting down to the primacy of colors and brushstrokes, cataloging each component and recombining them as indices of previous works. Merkel recreates paintings he has already made by stacking them atop one another on the canvas, lining them up in thumbnail versions or editing and rearranging them as collage. Just as any exhibition is a catalog of sorts, and any work of art exists within a historical context, Merkel uses each painting as a retrospective, an index, a visual discourse. Selections from his index of shapes and patterns are used as building blocks that can be rearranged and reproduced to create documents and portraits.The resulting paintings are stunning and dynamic. His exhibition Ways To Make Things includes portraits of Erwin Wurm and David Reed among others, based on the subjects’ selections. The show also features a 22-foot tapestry of works on paper, each individual piece acting as an element within his codex.