Land of Mortimer, a solo exhibition with new work by British artist James Mortimer will take place from Friday 8 February to Saturday 2 March 2019 at James Freeman Gallery.
Mortimer’s new body of work includes provocative oil paintings and ink drawings exploring nature and humanity, often through a skewed comedic lens. His pieces feature stylised idyllic landscapes characterised by darkly humorous undertones and macabre scenarios. Naked figures and exotic animals fight and romp amidst clear blue waters, palm trees and fields of wheat, displaying universal elements of the human condition.
Mortimer’s work draws from an amalgam of memory and imagination, usually painting from the mind’s eye and sometimes using his own body and a collection of stuffed animals and skeletons as models for his figures.
Among the works created for the show include the large oil painting Baboon, featuring a seemingly serene landscape of soft greens and tones of blue inhabited by grazing deer and naked figures. Upon closer examination the viewer is confronted with more disturbing scenes such as the baboon, which is aggressively attacking a nesting bird, along with human figures cutting down trees and drowning each other. In another large-scale oil painting called Lake Islands, the idyllic and the visceral merge in another apparently tranquil landscape where flamingos flock in shallow waters and monkeys play amongst hippopotamus skulls.
Mortimer says of his work:
Humour is important in art, and I think the behaviour of the figures populating my paintings often lies in this. I like people who lack self-awareness, who do shameful, inappropriate, or inexplicable things with blasé nonchalance. This is why my figures tend to look fairly unconcerned and expressionless when behaving manifestly inappropriately.
Born in 1989, James Mortimer is a self-taught painter and studied sculpture at the Bath School of Art, winning the Kenneth Armitage Prize for Sculpture in 2013. Mortimer’s bronze sculpture Crocodile Head featured in the Royal Academy 250th Summer Exhibition alongside artwork by Paula Rego, Yinka Shonibare and Tracey Emin amongst others. Mortimer has exhibited internationally including solo shows at The Catto Gallery in London and Accesso Gallery in Pietrasanta, Italy. Mortimer! James Mortimer’s first solo exhibition at James Freeman Gallery took place in 2014 and showcased a similar surreal landscape where man and beast exist together.