Roger Mortimer’s map paintings chart worlds that are at once both recognisable and strange — visionary topographies in familiar geographies. They are metaphorical stories of navigation and transformation, drawing on 14th century illustrated manuscripts of the famous poem The Divine Comedyby the Italian poet Dante. Mortimer has been described as a contemporary visual mythologist. In his luminous fantastical landscapes, we see beauty and barbarity, horror and hope, sinners and saints. The strange and surreal juxtaposition of recognisable shipping maps of the New Zealand coast with ancient European imagery points to the timelessness, universality and topicality of an exploration of the moral frameworks that shape social thinking, beyond beliefs in heaven and hell.
Mortimer has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland. In 2014, he won the Paramount Award in the Wallace Art Awards and a six-month residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Programme in New York. In 2017, a survey show of selected works from the past 20 years was shown at the Pataka Art Museum in Wellington and the University of Auckland Gus Fisher Gallery.