Artist Biography - Justin Mortimer
Justin Mortimer (b. 1970) is an acclaimed British painter known for his powerful, accomplished and often darkly affecting paintings depicting scenes of human suffering, war, protest and the aftermath of disaster.
Mortimer’s practice is not for the fainthearted, but in a world in which atrocities, disasters and tragedies are all too prevalent, his paintings offer essentia...l commentary on power and its abuse in a new, globalised, digital, post-truth phase.
Mortimer is an avid observer of the social and political upheaval that is the staple of the international news agenda and viewers will find echoes of recent events in Ukraine, Venezuela, Syria and Afghanistan. Yet Mortimer wrings from this tortured narrative of violence and oppression images of both hope and despair and well as a strange and troubling beauty.
Mortimer’s paintings are not reportage or documentation, they represent a powerful and poetic visualisation of contemporary life, in all its grim and magical reality. Mortimer often starts his works through a lengthy process of digital collaging of eclectic source materials from newspapers, magazines, books and, increasingly, the Internet and social media. He explores how this imagery forms the basis of our understanding of what is going on in the world.
Through the juxtaposition and collage of this imagery, Mortimer presents a fragmented reality. This is not just a reflection of the ways in which one’s perception of the contemporary world is a kind of ever-evolving collage of imagery culled from an ongoing overload of print and digital information and layered over and upon our retinal vision, but also a suggestion of the ways in which the very fabric of society is increasingly fractured. The world is constantly shifting, and Mortimer’s paintings hint at the tectonic cracks and shifts appearing in the old world order. Put simply, the paintings depict a world in which nothing is stable or certain.
This convergence of the real and virtual worlds in Mortimer’s practice, played out to some extent through documentary and collage, can also be discerned in the interplay of abstraction and realist figuration contained within many works. Whether by means of smoke, light and atmospheric effects through space, or through other formal and graphic devices the final result is sensitive yet powerful.
Justin Mortimer graduated from the Slade School of Art in 1992 and lives and works in London. He has won several prestigious awards including the EAST Award (2004), NatWest Art Prize (1996) and the BP National Portrait Award (1991).
He has undertaken a number of important commissions including portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, Steve Redgrave and, for the National Portrait Gallery, three Royal Court directors.
Recent solo exhibitions include HOAX, The Armory Art Fair, New York (2018) with Parafin; 'It Is Here', Parafin, London (2017); 'while the worst', The Factory, London (2017); 'Kult', Parafin, London (2015), Djanogly Gallery, University of Nottingham (2015), 'Sevastopol', Future Perfect, Singapore (2015).
His work is in numerous private and public collections including the National Portrait Gallery, London, the National Portrait Gallery, Canada, Royal Society for the Arts, Bank of America, NatWest Bank and the Flash Art Museum of Contemporary Art in Trevi, Italy.