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JUSTIN MORTIMER - While the Worst


  • 120 London Road, London SE1 6LF (map)

Book your free place to the private view on 12 January here.

We are proud to have the privilege of showing a selection of Justin Mortimer's maquettes and collages alongside his painting work. 

This exhibition explores the unusual working process of the acclaimed British painter Justin Mortimer (b.1970). Mortimer is widely regarded as one of the leading British painters working today and is an emblematic figure for a younger generation, an artist who has pursued a particular vision and way of working independently of the vagaries of fashion.

Mortimer’s powerful paintings reflect upon a world in a state of disorder. Mortimer is an observer of the social and political upheaval that defines the international news agenda and recent works address events in the US, Ukraine, West Africa, Syria and Afghanistan. His paintings combine contemporary imagery sourced from the internet with archival material from old books and magazines in order to visualise a world in which nothing is stable or certain. In Mortimer’s work images are fragmented. This suggests the ways in the world is both fractured and constantly shifting, and echoes the tectonic cracks and shifts appearing in the old world order.

For each of his paintings Mortimer makes as many as forty collages. As each painting develops through successive iterations of its source material, Mortimer follows certain possibilities and rejects others, constantly returning to and refining, introducing new motifs and culling elements that are extraneous. Working in this way Mortimer has built up a vast reservoir of imagery over time, a visual compendium that reflects his obsessions and his very particular and idiosyncratic view of our times. This new project opens this process up for the first time by contrasting a mass of preparatory material with Zona (2016), a major new painting that is being exhibited for the first time.

The exhibition’s title is taken from The Second Coming (1919), a poem by WB Yeats, specifically the lines:

            The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity

Curated in association with Ben Tufnell of Parafin Gallery.

Justin Mortimer 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). Recent solo exhibitions include Djanogly Art Gallery, Nottingham (2015), Parafin, London (2015), Future Perfect, Singapore (2015) and Haunch of Venison, London (2012). Recent group exhibitions include Blow Up: Painting, Photography and Reality, Parafin, London, (2015), The Nude in the XX and XXI Centuries, S|2, London (2015), How to Tell The Future from the Past, Haunch of Venison, New York (2013), Nightfall, MODEM Centre for Modern and Contemporary Arts, Debrecen, Hungary (2012) and the 2011 Prague Biennial. 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 and the Flash Art Museum of Contemporary Art in Trevi, Italy.

Earlier Event: November 10
Artist talk - Hynek Martinec