James Mortimer: Paintings, Oil on Linen
James Mortimer, a painter and a sculptor, was born in Swindon, Wiltshire in 1989. He was educated at a Catholic School and studied sculpture at the Bath School of Art, receiving the Kenneth Armitage Prize for Sculpture. Mortimer now devotes himself to painting imagined scenes of immoral excess, mythical creatures and larger than life characters. He is represented by the Catto Gallery on Heath Street in London.
James Mortimer’s fey boys inhabit a world of uncomplicated decadence, a surreal Renaissance landscape where man and beast exist together on increasingly equal terms. Inhibitions go out the window; each is a slave to their own nature. The ensuing relationships provide fertile ground for myriad little dramas as the companions look to get along. Animals become mischievous, even vicious at times. Their masters try to rise above it, retaining an almost Imperial sense of composure, but in the process find themselves somehow detached, lost even, gazing wistfully into the opium haze of their peculiar adopted land.
Whilst seemingly simple, there is wealth of drama playing out behind the scenes. Visual puns and innuendoes pepper his paintings like Freudian slips of the brush. Every fruit and every plant is pregnant with suggestion. Exoticism and the thrill of travel also permeate every scene, like Victorian Boy’s Own adventures that have turned slightly spicy and risqué. And underneath it all, there is a simmering sexuality. These characters are vain, vice-loving and beautiful; they are what the gaze what meant for.