Mat Collishaw is a British painter, sculptor, photographer, digital artist and installation maker who emerged from Goldsmiths in the late 1980s at the same time as other Young British Artists (YBAs) like Damien Hirst, and whose disturbing works tend to reference the violent, sadistic and grotesque. In his earlier works Collishaw was seen in his images as being transgressive for the sake of being transgressive—his work included images, for example, of women inserting tampons, as well as murdered, raped, decapitated female corpses—but certain later works indicated a search for a new kind of beauty that went beyond shock value, such as orchids covered with oozing syphilitic sores and radiating infectious danger, or images of poisoned butterflies and moths, amongst other insects, crushed on the surface of a scanner.Read More
Collishaw's use of horror became notoriously clever and inventive, particularly in its references to art history. Sometimes there is a Gothic sensibility (in the pre-Renaissance sense of the word), including in an ornately carved, steepled shrine framing of LED screens of flowers; sometimes the sombre nature morte tradition is referenced, as with photographs of reconstructed last meals of executed American murderers. Another example is a revolving Victorian zoetrope—an early motion-picture device—repeatedly showing in three dimensions a gruesome version of Ippolito Scarsella's The Massacre of the Innocents. Collishaw also created a virtual reality version of William Henry Fox Talbot's pioneering 1839 exhibition of photographs at Somerset House, London, in 2017.
In a sense, Collishaw is an artist's artist. He has managed to concentrate on making a large amount of provocative but smart work involving a vast range of technologies, while avoiding the trivia of celebrity-hood and stardom.
Collishaw has had solo exhibitions at The Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach (2013); The Pino Pascali Foundation, Polignano a Mare (2013); Blain|Southern London (2013); British Film Institute, London (2010); Freud Museum, London (2009); Museum of Contemporary Art, Warsaw (2000); and Camden Arts Centre, London (1995). Mat Collishaw, a major survey of his work, was held at The New Art Gallery Walsall in 2015.
Examples of his work are in the following collections: Tate, London; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; British Council, London; and Olbricht Collection, Berlin.
John Hurrel | Ocula | 2018