Essay by Freya Cooper Kiddie
88pp, hardback, 255 x 195 mm, c. 45 images
Published to coincide with a solo presentation of the new ‘Hoax Suite’ by British painter Justin Mortimer at The Armory Show in New York in spring 2018 with London-based gallery Parafin, the publication presents the thirty works that comprise this exceptional series of paintings depicting dead and dying flowers, offering an intense and accomplished exposition of still life, or perhaps more aptly, nature morte. From one direction, pure abstraction threatens to rupture into physical space and matter; from the other, figuration almost collapses into the abstraction that engulfs it. With Mortimer’s characteristic combination of darkness and beauty, melancholy and metaphysics, observation and interpretation, the Hoax series is not only a significant body of work within the artist’s oeuvre, but perhaps also one of the most significant series of paintings of flowers in our time.
Alongside new photography of all the paintings, the book features a specially commissioned essay by London-based writer Freya Cooper Kiddie, in which she discusses the genesis and evolution of the suite of paintings, its connections to Mortimer’s wider practice and to art history, and opens up critical lines of enquiry ranging from 20th-century experimental film to existential notions of mortality, from altered states of mind to the concept of still life as portraiture. Cooper Kiddie investigates the techniques and aesthetics of a series that fuses decaying organic matter with corrupted digital technology.
While ‘The Hoax Suite’ of paintings can be read as an exploration of the medium of paint and of the dialogue between figuration and abstraction through a single subject, its themes are manifold, from the contemplation of mortality to faded beauty and lost love – fragrant flowers in full bloom, as if to deceive us, soon decay. Here, in these dank, acrid, darkly psychedelic works, Mortimer shines a flashlight on the spectral beauty of death, and in doing so, reminds us that life is the agonizing yet ecstatic explosion of colour that fleetingly fills the void.
Justin Mortimer graduated from the Slade School of Art in 1992 and lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include Parafin, London (2017 and 2015), Djanogly Gallery, Lakeside Arts, University of Nottingham (2015), Future Perfect, Singapore (2015), Haunch of Venison, London (2012), and Mihai Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles (2011). Recent group exhibitions include The New Frontiers of Painting, Fondazione Stelline, Milan (2017-18), Disruptive Imagination, Gallery of Fine Arts, Ostrava, Czech Republic (2017), This Side of Paradise, Sotheby’s S/2, London (2014), Are you alright? MOCCA, Toronto (2013), Nightfall, MODEM Centre for Modern and Contemporary Arts, Debrecen, Hungary (2012), and the 5th Prague Biennial (2010). His work is in collections including the National Portrait Gallery, London, the Royal Society for the Arts, Bank of America, NatWest Bank and the Flash Art Museum of Contemporary Art in Trevi, Italy.
RRP: £30 / €35 / $40
UK release date: 15 March 2018
US release date: 12 April 2018
Designed by Modern Activity
Edited by Matt Price
Published by Anomie
Images: © The artist and Parafin, London
Photography by Peter Mallet