Matthew Krishanu: The Bough Breaks

26 April - 23 June 2024
Free to all

This major solo exhibition will present a body of new work, including paintings and works on paper.

Matthew Krishanu (b.1980, Bradford, UK) paints atmospheric, pared-back compositions including scenes from the artist’s life, particularly his childhood years in Bangladesh growing up with his brother, and their parents who were Christian missionaries. In the paintings, seemingly familiar narratives are alluded to but destabilised. The viewer’s own projections are called upon to fulfil the interpretive loop, raising questions about childhood, religion, race, power, and the legacies of empire.

These personal stories are told through layers of memory, imagination, and conversations with the history of painting. Drawing on multiple influences including El Greco, Gwen John, Noah Davis, and the Ajanta cave paintings, Krishanu’s work often explores how representations in the canon of Western art have shaped our collective unconscious around questions of race and gender. Working in ongoing series that include Another Country, Mission, and Holy Family, one painting segues into the next as a natural telling of the artist’s own journey through the joys and sorrows of life, with deeply personal subject matter that speaks to the human condition in all its complexity.

The exhibition’s title, The Bough Breaks, proceeds from the artist’s recent exhibition On a Limb (Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai, 2023). Both exhibitions relate to images from Krishanu’s Two Boys series, in which the artist and his brother are depicted perched on, and to some extent dwarfed by, the majestic branches, or ‘limbs’, of the banyan tree—an iconic symbol in Indian culture. The potential failure of this security—if the bough was to break—alludes to the dark undertones of the nursery rhyme Rock-a-bye Baby, as well as to the evident failure of the structures that should protect, provide for, and perpetuate society: a poignant metaphor for contemporary life.

Krishanu’s practice is at once an exploration of subject and medium, where by deeply personal subject matter is a means of approaching his primary, painterly concerns. The compositions provide multiple entry points—at times holding the viewer at bay and, at others, inviting them in. Meaning is implied rather than dictated, barring the path to reductive biographical readings.

Just as the paintings offer an immersion in surfaces, this major showcase of primarily new work by the artist will also foreground Krishanu’s drawings and works on paper—what he describes as the generative heartbeat of the exhibition.

Get a National Art Pass and explore Camden Art Centre

You'll see more art and your membership will help museums across the UK

National Art Pass offers available at Camden Art Centre

10% off in shop

Enjoy 10% off in bookshop with your National Art Pass. (Valid on book purchases only)
Expires: 1 Jan 2025

IndividualTiana Clarke Please note this is an example card and not a reflection of the final product

Visitor information


Camden Art Centre

Arkwright Road, London, Greater London, NW3 6DG
020 7472 5500

Free to all

Opening times

Tue – Sun, 10am – 6pm (Wed 9pm) Closed Mondays

Visitor information

IndividualTiana Clarke Please note this is an example card and not a reflection of the final product

The more you see, the more we do.

The National Art Pass lets you enjoy free entry to hundreds of museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, while raising money to support them.

Are your sure you want to leave checkout?