Wild things romp in artist James Mortimer’s disturbing mythical landscapes

A provocative new exhibition, Land of Mortimer, features mystical landscapes populated by naked figures and exotic beasts revelling in macabre scenarios. Among seemingly serene settings of soft blue and green landscapes, we're confronted, upon closer examination, with disturbing scenes of characters drowning and mauling one another.

James Mortimer’s new body of work includes surreal oil paintings and ink drawings exploring nature and humanity, often through a dark comedic lens. The violence stems from Mortimer’s innate black humour. His characters lack self-awareness, do shameful, inappropriate, or inexplicable things with blasé nonchalance.

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. "I enjoy capturing the anticipation of something about to happen, the lull before the storm - such a man about to ill-advisedly hit a giraffe in the testicles with a club, which can only end badly."

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.

Land of Mortimer by James Mortimer will run from 8 February until 2 March 2019 at the James Freeman Gallery in London. Discover more: jamesmortimerart.com.


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