Figuration is at the centre of my work. In the last 16 years (since graduating) this has been explored through two main strands: my main practice and commissioned portraits.
The people in my compositions are often placed in environments that have borne witness to conflict or human vulnerability. For example disused military structures, derelict wastelands and TB Sanatoria have all figured in my paintings. They are psychological spaces as much as real places; the paranoid landscape. The figures are frequently truncated; nearly always faceless. This is not to depict literal dismemberment, but rather to augment the disconnected, anxious tension between themselves, their bodies and immediate surroundings. Similarly in my portraits, sitters are choreographed (by use of compositional imbalance and cropping, choice of colour and gesture), to enhance their unspoken, inner dialogue.
Before starting a painting I make a digital collage, cutting and pasting scanned and/or uploaded photographs. This first 'plan' is scaled up and painted onto the canvas. Then, by a continual process of altering and overlaying subsequent redrafts onto the painting, I am encouraging the unanticipated visual collisions that amplify underlying themes and emotive content, so easily neglected in the preliminary 'mock up' and muddied by the mundane routines of representation.
-- Justin Mortimer
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