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Artist Aotearoa New Zealand

Milford Galleries Dunedin

1 June- 24 June 2024

Mortimer - Exhibition view-10_edited.jpg

Copyright © 2024 Roger Mortimer

There is no such thing as a single reading or interpretation of a Roger Mortimer painting or tapestry. His work is multi-faceted and multilayered, traversing time and place plurally.

Mortimer’s unique and rare ability to blend fact and fiction while engaged in a virtuoso presentation of human foibles and events – both mythical and real – firmly locates his work in the literary worlds of Dante’s Inferno while equally explicitly positioning it in the lexis of New Zealand’s past and present.

These are as much marine charts and medieval nautical maps as illuminated manuscripts, and parables of behaviour where dichotomies – depictions of heaven and hell, good and evil, past and present, incidences of life and death, etcetera – become key components in a narrative conversation which in essence has no beginning, middle or end. These important works are also politically engaged, using the past as a visual metaphor for contemporary morality and the processes of colonialism. These are epic narratives, where the reveal comes slowly but ultimately with the force of a sledgehammer when the viewer realises this is the coastline of New Zealand, and that the locus is utterly local.

Be it the Taranaki coast, Aotea (Great Barrier Island) or Southland (the Awarua Plain reaching across to Fiordland and Stewart Island), indigenous flora (fern, flowering pōhutukawa, flax, nīkau, ponga) adds further particularity. We witness everything in a state of flux, (where angels, messengers from heaven and scenes from biblical texts are quoted, where a wire fence divides or an architectural building contains) in a pictorial environment dominated by mythic beasts, elaborate compasses and nautical imagery.

Artist Roger Mortimer Dante painter and Tapestries

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