Mat Collishaw, Installation view, Haunch of Venison Berlin, 2009, © Mat Collishaw, 2009.

Mat Collishaw, Installation view, Haunch of Venison Berlin, 2009, © Mat Collishaw, 2009.

Mat Collishaw Derives a Bacon Derivation of a Valazquez Original

Mat Collishaw, Installation view, Haunch of Venison Berlin, 2009, © Mat Collishaw, 2009.

Mat Collishaw, Insecticide 16, 2009, C-type photo on Dibond, 182.9 x 182.9 cm, © Mat Collishaw, 2009.

Mat Collishaw, Insecticide 14, 2009, C-type photo on Dibond, 182.9 x 182.9 cm, © Mat Collishaw, 2009.

Mat Collishaw, Insecticide 15, 2009, C-type photo on Dibond, 182.9 x 182.9 cm, © Mat Collishaw, 2009.

Mat Collishaw, Insecticide 17, 2009, C-type photo on Dibond, 182.9 x 182.9 cm, © Mat Collishaw, 2009.

 

Haunch of Venison
Heidestrasse 46
+ 49 (0)30 39 74 39 63
Berlin
Mat Collishaw, Submission
September 12-December 19, 2009

For his first solo exhibition in Berlin, Mat Collishaw presents a corrupted digital manipulation of Francis Bacon's Pope Innocent X, itself appropriated from a Velazquez original. Entitled The End of Innocence and projected on a monumental scale, Collishaw's rendering of the iconic portrait presents a densely striated image, its forms constantly dissolving and reconstituting in the manner of the "digital rain" popularized by the Matrix film trilogy.

In stark contrast to the postmodern digital encoding of Bacon's Pope, the other works in the exhibition reveal Collishaw's fascination with Victorian-era viewing devices and techniques. The distorted figures of a toreador and a bull in the anamorphic bullfight video Skin Flick 2 only become pictorially coherent when viewed in a mirrored javelin that lances the table. Similar representations of human violence against the animal kingdom are found in The Garden of Unearthly Delights. Animated by a mechanized zoetrope, devilish imps try to spear snails, throw rocks at butterflies, and hit fish in this spectral garden.

Accompanying these major new works is a series of "Insecticide" photographs featuring insects captured at the moment of their death. Enlarged on an epic scale, Collishaw calls these images "degraded and violent memorials to a once living form". The embalmed bodies of the insects evince the brutality of their death: their velvet-like wings torn, their antennae broken, their internal fluids bleeding from their crushed thoraxes. Their presentation recalls the practice of classifying and displaying naturalia in seventeeth-century cabinets of curiosity.

Collishaw's work reveals an ongoing preoccupation with representational techniques, how we consume imagery, and with visual devices that beguile the human eye. The artist is typically interested in images which are at once alluring and disturbing, which elicit ambivalent feelings of enchantment and disenchantment, attraction and repulsion in the viewer. "I'm interested in the way imagery affects me subliminally," Collishaw comments. "Whether I like it or not, there are mechanisms within us that are primed to respond to all kinds of visual material, leaving us with no real say over what we happen to find stimulating. The dark side of my work primarily concerns the internal mechanisms of visual imagery and how these mechanisms address the mind."

Mat Collishaw (born in Nottingham, 1966) is renowned for photographs and video installations that meld a style and technique reminiscent of much older art forms with images and projections of fascinating and shocking beauty. This juxtaposition of contemporary images and historical references produces a highly charged visual experience that tests the viewer's resolve and sensibility, creating mixed feelings of enchantment and disenchantment. We are at once horrified and seduced by images that merge the cruel and the caring, the morbid and the poetic, the repulsive and the alluring. In the artist's own words: "I'm interested in the way imagery hits me subliminally... Whether I like it or not, there are mechanisms within us that are primed to respond to all kinds of visual material, leaving us with no real say over what we happen to find stimulating."

This duality can be found in the "Infectious Flowers" series. Flowers, usually associated with beauty and fertility, become a vehicle for representing illness, suffering, death and disease. Their ordinary meanings and associations have been displaced. The seductive qualities of what Collishaw depicts in his art are in fact obscuring a disfigurement that lies hidden within the image. Thus, a quick glance at "Amaryllis" and "Orchids" yields a sense of beauty. It is only upon closer inspection that the viewer can identify their delicate petals made up of images of pustular disease — disquieting to contemplate, yet irresistibly alluring.

In more recent years Collishaw's work has expanded to include installation, drawing and painting, questioning not only our fascination with violence, sex and depravity, but through the medium of digitally altered images, the relationship between representation and reality.

Mat Collishaw currently lives and works in London where his work has been received to increasing critical and public acclaim ever since he exhibited at "Freeze" in 1988 and "Modern Medicine" in 1990. Since then he was given a solo exhibition at the Lisson Gallery in 1996 where he exhibited an animation of a night-club stripper morphed together from photographic stills and took part in the infamous 'Sensation' exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 1997 where he displayed large-scaled tiled photographs of a bullet wound in a head, mounted on 15 light boxes. Collishaw has also been a significant figure on the international scene for over a decade, exhibiting at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis in 1996 where he presented photographic works that combined antique and contemporary forms of moving image devices, the "L'Hiver de l'amour" and "Life/Live" shows at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville and the Brooklyn Museum, New York in 1998.

Alexander McQueen, A sculptural metallic silver mini dress and Daphne Guinness, 2008, Photograph by Mat Collishaw.

Mat Collishaw, Madonna, 2002, Ceramic, cement, wood, paint, 425 x 258 cm.

Mat Collishaw, Installation view, Haunch of Venison Berlin, 2009, © Mat Collishaw, 2009.

Mat Collishaw, Installation view, Haunch of Venison Berlin, 2009, © Mat Collishaw, 2009.

Mat Collishaw, Shooting Stars, Composite installation view, 2008, Dimensions variable, © Mat Collishaw, 2008.

The Fleeting Substance of Images, Time, and our Own Reflection

Mat Collishaw, Island of the Dead, 2008, LCD screen, hard drive, wooden frame, two way mirror, 114 x 67 x 15 cm, © Mat Collishaw.

Mat Collishaw, Island of the Dead, 2008, LCD screen, hard drive, wooden frame, two way mirror, 114 x 67 x 15 cm, © Mat Collishaw.

Mat Collishaw, A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2002, C-type photograph in frame, 36.8 x 44 cm, © Matt Collishaw.

Mat Collishaw, Ultraviolet Garden (V), 2008, Lightbox with UV tubes, 41 x 51 x 10 cm, © Mat Collishaw.

Left, Mat Collishaw, Ultraviolet Garden (I), 2008, Lightbox with UV tubes, 41 x 51 x 10 cm, © Mat Collishaw. Right, Mat Collishaw, Ultraviolet Garden (II), 2008, Lightbox with UV tubes, 41 x 51 x 10 cm, © Mat Collishaw.

Left, Mat Collishaw, Ultraviolet Garden (III), 2008, Lightbox with UV tubes, 41 x 51 x 10 cm, © Mat Collishaw. Right, Mat Collishaw, Ultraviolet Garden (IV), 2008, Lightbox with UV tubes, 41 x 51 x 10 cm, © Mat Collishaw.

 

Haunch of Venison
6 Haunch of Venison Yard
+ 44(0)20 7495 5050
London
Mat Collishaw, Shooting Stars
July 7-August 30, 2008

Mat Collishaw presents a new body of work that blurrs the distinction between representation and reality. At the heart of the exhibition is a fascination with the inherently unstable and fugitive nature of images — printed, projected or illuminated by ultra-violet or strobe lighting.

On the ground floor, an animated video of Arnold Böcklin's painting The Island of the Dead depicts the unsettling movement of light and shade across the island in a 24-hour period. Projected on a two-way mirror, the viewer approaches an image of the island and the viewer's reflection, in what could be described as a futile attempt to resurrect life from the 2-dimensional image.

On investigation, the viewer sees a play of shadows, slowly making their way around the island's topography, implying movement of the sun over the course of a single day. Collishaw has tried "perversely, to bring this island to life but it remains stoically beyond our reach, remote and incomprehensible

" A lone figure, present in Böcklin's original painting, absent here, appears mysteriously in a nearby daguerreotype. Printed using an early 19th century technique, the daguerreotype uses a negative image of the girl that then appears positive on the mirrored surface of the metal plate, coming into view only once the viewer's shadow passes over it. In both works, Collishaw exploits the reflective capacity of the mirror to resist any impression of the images' substance or solidity and to draw attention to the visibility of death.

In the installation Shooting Stars, historical photographs of Victorian child prostitutes are projected on gallery walls alongside similar images restaged by the artist using an older model. Fired onto phosphorescent paint, these disturbing portraits flare briefly before slowly fading.

The ghostly after-images suggest the fragile duration of the children's short existences, their demise due in many cases to sexually transmitted diseases in the Victorian era. Shooting Stars is an indictment of child exploitation. "The girls in these images exist only in these stark photographic records," says Collishaw. "For many, their lives were not much longer than the fleeting exposure of the camera shutter."

The top floor is dominated by a zoetrope, a cylindrical device that produces an illusion of action from a rapid succession of static images. Entitled Throbbing Gristle, the two metre-wide sculpture features one hundred and eighty mythological figures, including a Minotaur, the Three Graces, a she-wolf and a cherub, in various stages of motion. As the zoetrope spins, the forms of the figurines blur, before becoming animated by a strobe light that transforms them into coherent, moving characters. Throbbing Gristle represents Collishaw's reflection on the condition of looking at things. Against the eerie twilight created by the artifice of the zoetrope, characters seem to take a perverse interest in each other while we peer at them. Collishaw comments on the mechanized action of human procreation; we reproduce like animals and automatons at the same time that social code requires us to behave decorously.

Collishaw's interest in photographic technology advances finds a final, haunting expression. A series of lightboxes with exposed ultra-violet tubes illuminate images of fairies dancing in woodland. The images have been appropriated from the infamous Cottingley Fairy photos, a series of five photographs which were thought to prove the existence of fairies during the Edwardian era, but were in fact staged by two young British girls, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths in 1917 and 1920. Here, as in the other works in the exhibition, the fugitive nature of the image — its ability to flicker, dissolve and evanesce without warning — is manifested. The girls are themselves a part of the freedom of fantasy, deluded by ethereal desires shared by the photographer and a society willing to suspend its disbelief.

Mat Collishaw (b. 1961) lives and works in London, and was a key figure in the generation of British artists who emerged from Goldsmith's College in the late 1980s. He took part in Freeze in 1988 and since his first solo exhibition in 1990 he has shown around the world, including in Sensation at Royal Academy in 1997. His work is in museum collections including Tate, London and Centre Pompidou, Paris. Last year, he was included in a two-person exhibition curated by James Putnam for the Venice Biennale and earlier this year he had a solo exhibition at Spring Projects in London.

Mat Collishaw, Sugar and Spice, All Things Nice, This Is What Little Girls Are Made Of #7, 1998, Photograph, color, on paper, 350 x 278 mm, Collection Tate, Purchased 1999, P78248

Mat Collishaw, Sugar and Spice, All Things Nice, This Is What Little Girls Are Made Of #3, 1998, Photograph, color, on paper, 355 x 298 mm, Collection Tate, Purchased 1999, P78247.

Mat Collishaw, Shooting Stars, Composite installation view, 2008, Dimensions variable, © Mat Collishaw, 2008.