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Justin Mortimer's canvases have been described as history painting for the present age, fragmented scenes hinting at political and social upheaval, and detailing unspecified acts of human cruelty and suffering.
In his recent work, these scenes are typically enacted in an indeterminate space, often in scrub woodland at night illuminated by the flash of a camera or the sulphurous glow of a flare. His subjects are never literal or explicit but operate on a viscerally emotional and psychological level, creating a general aura of malaise and foreboding. Frequently this darkly sinister mood is given a sharper edge through the introduction of an incongruous detail such as a cluster of party balloons.
Academically trained, and for the early part of his career a successful portraitist, Mortimer is one of a growing number of international contemporary artists - especially from eastern Europe - who have reinvigorated the tradition of figurative painting.
His imagery is gleaned from the internet and digitally collaged to create the starting point for his compositions.
This is the first solo exhibition of Justin Mortimer's work to be held in a public gallery, and has been organised in collaboration with Ben Tufnell (Parafin, London www.parafin.co.uk
Image: Joker (detail) © Justin Mortimer