Justin Mortimer (b. 1970, UK) Portrait, biography, career facts, books & selected works.
Portrait of Justin Mortimer in his studio .
Justin Mortimer, born in 1970 in Cosford, United Kingdom, is a visual artist residing and working in London, United Kingdom. The British artist is known for painting large scale apocalyptic landscapes and settings with oils and acrylic on canvas, marked by a dark and surreal atmosphere.
These outside spaces function as a setting for an event taking place in the picture. However, the exact narrative or meaning of these events remains rather elusive. In fact, even the painter is not sure what is happening, it goes beyond.
The enigmatic world of Justin Mortimer originates from a digital collage technique. Mortimer collects found imagery from second hand books, magazines, medical journals, war photography, holiday pictures or the word wide web. By cutting and pasting, layering the images, something starts to happen within the collage. Serendipities take the artist beyond what was possible to imagine and triggers the painter to effectuate an image which, even for him, is an enigma. However, he knows this is the image to paint. These digital collages are his sketches, and in fact, are artworks on its own (see image below).
From 2010 up to around 2018, his work is characterized by these surrealistic arrangements. Motives such as trees, balloons, clouds of colored smoke, street lights, tormented figures or figures in protective clothing populating the spaces are a continuum throughout his oeuvre. Around 2018, the artist starts to work an a large body of work of dying flowers on abstract and painterly backdrops full of intriguing textures and glitches, titled Hoax, Breed and Taxa series (cf. infra; Selected works).
After this series, Mortimer has been building upon these abstract backdrops for his Home series (cf. infra; Selected works). Instead of starting with digital collage, the artist starts with painting this abstract backdrop, which he then photographs and populates it by means of digital collage on the computer, and then goes back to painting.
It is clear to say that the paintings by Justin Mortimer are something to be experienced, rather to be theorized. They depict the world in a state of disorder, surrealism and apocalypse. He seems to visualizes in a painterly manner the tension between horror and beauty, as one can not help to be enchanted by these unreal scenes. Balancing on abstraction and figuration, the colors in his work are vibrant and present. Although the scenes are often very dark, there is color in abundance. Yellow, green, purple, blue and pink clouds of color create an intriguing contrast in the painting. Flesh, muted in color, or the imitation of the fabrics and texture of the protective clothing illustrates the craftsmanship of the British artist.
Justin Mortimer, Study for ‘It is here’, 2016. Giclée print on archival Somerset Enhanced paper (edition of 100) – 84.1 x 59.4 cm. Courtesy of Parafin Gallery.
Justin Mortimer studied at the Slade School of Art, where he graduated in 1992. Shortly after – and one during – being an art student, the British artist won several prestigious awards. In 1991, Mortimer won the BP Portrait Award First Prize at the National Portrait Gallery. In 1996, he won the NatWest Art Prize, followed by the Hunting Art Prize for Young Artist of the Year in 1997. In the following decade, Mortimer also won the EAST award, EAST international in 2004, followed by shows across the United Kingdom – mainly in London, but also Norwich Gallery or the Eigse Carlow Arts Festival in Ireland – and a first exhibition overseas in Paris in 2006.
During the second decade of the new millennium, his paintings were launched on the international art scene. In 2011, Justin Mortimer participated in the Prague Biennale 5, Czech Republic, encountering a wave in Eastern European Painting consisting of many similar aspects in relation to his own work. Ever since, the British painter has had shows in Korea, New York, Singapore, Los Angeles, Berlin, Hungary, Milan, Ostrova, Toronto and Gwacheon. Important shows were at Haunch of Venison, London, Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague, the Museum Of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Toronto or Space K, Gwacheon, Korea. In 2015, Mortimer was represented in the Sydney Contemporary art fair, NSW Australia, followed by the Frieze New York Art Fair in 2016 and The Armory Art Fair in 2018, New York City, United States. The major art publication The Guardian has reviewed Mortimer's work.
Further, the British artist is featured in a private, museum and public collections such as 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. In the Artfacts ranking, Justin Mortimer ranks in the top 100.000 globally and top 10.000 in the United Kingdom.
Justin Mortimer Books — Selected bibliography
Ben Tufnell, Justin Mortimer : It is here. London: Parafin, 2015.
Martin Herbert and Coline Milliard, Justin Mortimer. London: Parafin and Lecturis, 2015. (available on Amazon)
Jane Neal and Tom Hunt, Justin Mortimer. London: Haunch of Venison, 2012. (available on Amazon)
[included in] Todd Bradway et. al., Landscape Painting Now : from Pop Abstraction to New Romanticism. New York: Distributed Art Publisher, 2019. (available on Amazon)
[included in] Charlotte Mullins, Picturing People: The New State of the Art. London: Thames & Hudson, 2015. (available on Amazon)
[included in] Marc Valli and Margherita Dessanay. A Brush with the Real : Fgurative Painting Today. London: Laurence King Publishing, 2014. (available on Amazon)
[included in] Barry Schwabsky, Vitamin P2: New Perspectives in Painting. London: Phaidon, 2011. (available on Amazon)
Selected works — 2010-2020