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Future Perfect presents the first solo exhibition in Asia of acclaimed British artist Justin Mortimer.

A graduate of London’s Slade School of Art, the award­-winning painter has emerged as a mercurial talent of the UK art scene in recent years, earning a reputation for pushing the boundary between figuration and abstraction in works which probe today’s diffuse cultures of resistance. In this new series of paintings, anonymous figures engage in clandestine, ritualistic activities against shadowy backdrops. A palpable sense of disquiet predominates; the subjects’ gestures are legible as acts of demonstration, but a demonstration whose political objectives are unclear.

The departure point for Mortimer’s recent works is media imagery documenting worldwide expressions of resistance, from Russian punk protesters Pussy Riot, to the global Occupy Movement and the 2014 insurrection in Venezuela. Each composition emerges through a process of digital collage, weaving these diverse sources into enigmatic new narratives suffused with a latent violence. Masks, flags and balloons suggest a grotesque pageant. Elsewhere we find oblique references to civil disobedience, sado­masochism, and the ritualistic disgraces of Abu Ghraib.

While the artist’s classical training has equipped him with an extraordinary technical facility, he complicates this academic heritage by distressing his surfaces with rags and newspapers, revealing the picture’s construction. Form is corroded, with bleached subjects dissolving into passages of colourful abstraction. Mortimer’s loosely cropped portraits and skewed landscapes are disquieting and disorienting. Figures are isolated on gloomy backgrounds, punctuated by toxic yellows, and lurid pinks and purples implying the glare of flash photography.

In ‘Joker’ (2014), a balaclava-clad figure in a t-shirt stands in the snow, arms aloft. A washing line ­– a symbol of suburban domesticity – visually binds his adolescent remonstrations against a Tudor­-style house. These belligerent figures are “ciphers” for the artist’s broader concern with protest and the plight of what he refers to as “the small person against the state.” Implicated by their voyeurism as much as by their dissent, subject and viewer alike occupy what Mortimer calls the ‘perimeter world’, a precarious vantage point on a fractious new world (dis)order.

  • 354543d031686b7a06fec73f0bd60531_Justin Mortimer – Hijab II

    354543d031686b7a06fec73f0bd60531_Justin Mortimer – Hijab II