Mat Collishaw is a key figure in the important generation of British artists who emerged from Goldsmith’s College in the late 1980s. He participated in Freeze (1988) and since his first solo exhibition in 1990 has exhibited widely internationally.
Mat Collishaw's practice is governed by an aesthetic of the 'uncanny', in which the familiar performs unsettling tricks on the audience. Taking many of his symbols and themes from much older art forms, he cites desire as the starting point, drawing on a dark and fanciful human psyche with unsettling flights of imagination, one populated by wounds, prostitution, fairies and illusion. The Victorian sublime, with its symbols of desire, abjection and 19th century enlightened rationalism, is critiqued by Collishaw's insistence on human fallibility. This juxtaposition of contemporary images and historical references produces a highly charged visual experience that tests the viewer's resolve and sensibility, creating mixed feelings of enchantment and disenchantment. The viewer is at once horrified and seduced by images that merge the cruel and the caring, the morbid and the poetic, the repulsive and the alluring.
Collishaw’s work is in several public collections including Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania and Tate, London.