The artist's first public UK show for ten years explores the interrelation between beauty and the grotesque.
In his biggest UK solo show to date, Mat Collishaw presents the impressive scope of his practice, including sculpture, photography and film. Fascinated by human nature, Collishaw finds beauty in the macabre and often subverts controversial subject matter – such as death, destruction and decay – by portraying it in a visually appealing manner, thus asking poignant questions concerning the message and purpose of works of art. Take, for example, his Last Meal on Death Row, Texas series. These images evoke the alluring aesthetics of Flemish still life painting, yet contain the dark stories of final meals requested by violent, dangerous convicts.
A major new work called All Things Fall also has a sinister undertone. This incredible zoetrope (a pre-film animation device) appears at first to be a beautiful carousel or classical sculpture, but in fact brings the harrowing story of Massacre of the Innocents to life, following a long history of depictions rendered by the likes of Tintoretto, Rubens and Giotto. Other series include his ongoing photographic project Insecticides, which are a bursting with beautiful colours and patterns, but are actually close-up images of crushed moths.
Read Mat Collishaw’s conversation with photographer Don McCullin in the autumn issue of Art Quarterly.