Mat Collishaw (1966, Nottingham, UK) is associated with the YBA (Young British Artist) generation. Using diverse media, his art explores themes of beauty, seduction, suppressed desire and dark pleasure.
Collishaw received his BFA from Goldsmith, London, in 1989. His work Bullet Hole (1988) was exhibited in the now famous 1988 exhibition Freeze, presented in a disused warehouse and curated by Damien Hirst. This exhibition was attended by important art world figures including Charles Saatchi, Norman Rosenthal and Nicholas Serota, and launched the careers of many of the YBA artists, including Collishaw.
Collishaw has described his interest in creating "images that are awe-inspiring". His works use a visual language that is both romantic and sumptuous while also being unnerving and, at times, disturbing. Pornography, fairies, religion, bestiality and drug abuse have all been represented in the artist’s work. He is interested in the subliminal effect that imagery can have upon the viewer; playing upon this, he often fuses notions of the vile and desirable, the repulsive and inviting through his practice. Collishaw also meaningfully looks back at the history of art; his new-media artwork The End of Innocence draws upon paintings by both the Spanish seventeenth century artist Diego Velázquez and the Irish twentieth century artist Francis Bacon.
In 1997, Collishaw’s work was included in the controversial exhibition 'Sensation' at the Royal Academy of Art, which showcased works from Charles Saatchi’s collection.
Collishaw explores the ideals and fascinations of Victorian society. Nineteenth century Britain defined itself with empirical soberness, in accordance with scientific progress. However, suppressed perversions also accompanied the Age of Enlightenment. Collishaw’s work references the Victorian period by simulating its elaborately decorative and romantic style, while indirectly conjuring up an essence of society’s dark side.
Over the past decade, he has had numerous international solo shows, including: Cohen Gallery, New York, 1992; Camden Arts Centre, London, 1996; Duty Free Spirits, Lisson Gallery, London, 1997; Galeria d’Arte Moderne, Bologna, Italy, 1999; Museum of Contemporary Art, Warsaw, 2000; Mat Collishaw, Art & Public, Geneva, 2004; Shooting Stars, Haunch of Venison, London, 2008; Hysteria, Freud Museum, London, 2009; Retrospectre, BFI Southbank, London, 2010; and Creation Condemned, Blain│Southern, 2010 and 2013.
Group exhibitions include: Institute for Cultural Anxiety, ICA, London, 1994; Here and Now, Serpentine Gallery, London and Brilliant! New Art From London, Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, both 1995; Sensation, Royal Academy of Art, London, 1996; The Edge of Awareness, P.S.I, New York, 1998; Life/Live, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris and The Brooklyn Museum, New York, 1998; New Blood, Saatchi Gallery, London, 2004; In the Darkest Hour There May Be Light, Serpentine Gallery, London, 2006; and Mythologies, Haunch of Venison, London, 2009.
Other Criteria and Thames & Hudson have published books with Collishaw’s work, and the Victoria & Albert Museum commissioned Collishaw to produce the monumental onsite project, Magic Lantern, 2011. Most recently, Collishaw's solo exhibition This Is Not An Exit featured at Blain Southern, London, 2013.